An Invitation to Montana Attorney General Tim Fox
I’ve still yet to finish off the USDOJ investigative report into the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, but I am now on page 17. The problem I’ve had in finishing it isn’t time, but that my blood pressure goes up so much I have to get up and punch a wall or two, and then go for a walk. But I”m scaring the neighbors now with all my gesticulations as I power walk Misdemeanor Meadows, so clearly it’s time to fire off a post.
The USDOJ’s report is lots of things. It’s damning. It’s infuriating. It’s disgusting. It’s heartbreaking, It’s sickening. It’s maddening. The adjectives and the feelings are endless. But lessons need to be learned, and actions must be taken.
As I read the USDOJ’s report of sexual assault after sexual assault. Of gang rape. Or rapes unreported because victims already knew of the humiliation that would be handed down by Missoula County criminal prosecutors…I ponder the concept of justice and whether any semblance of it is, at all, reachable.
Does exposing Van Valkenburg’s leadership of the Missoula County’s Attorney’s office suffice? Certainly not – and especially if you attempt to think of it in the perspective of a sexual assault victim.
The statute of limitations for sexual assault in Montana is 10 years. If the victim is less than 18, then the 10 year timeline begins when the victim turns 18. I’ll further point out that having the victim testify is not always needed to prosecute rape.
The USDOJ report lays out violations of not only civil rights and equal protection under our U.S. Constitution, it lays out violations of the same in the Montana Constitution, along with Montana law. As I mentioned above, I’ve only gotten to page 17, but that does mean that I’ve read of at least two specific violations of Montana Code by the Missoula County Attorney’s Office.
Page 10 refers to MCA 46-24-104, which requires the prosecutor in any criminal case to consult and coordinate with the victims of criminal acts. Van Valkenburg’s County Attorney’s Office failed to do this to disastrous results.
Page 17 points to violations of MCA 45-5-501(1)(a) which says that a victim who is incapacitated is incapable of consent. Again – and in a town where it’s well-known by women the need to guard their drinks – this was a part of Montana law that Van Valkenburg and his crew of prosecuting criminal attorney’s were apparently unaware of it’s existence in code.
Both of those state law violations applied to multiple cases investigated by the USDOJ, who operated (let us not forget) without the cooperation of Van Valkenburg’s office. All of these violations, aside from Montana’s constitutional guarantees – many of which mirror the U.S. Constitution – went unprosecuted.
I point these out because this is the area which is now under the purview of Montana Attorney General Tim Fox. In this situation, the groundwork has been laid out painfully and publicly by the USDOJ’s office, and I dare suggest that not only is this is something Tim Fox can not ignore, it should now be his job to take on prosecution of these cases.
I’d like that he also review the negotiated plea agreement with the rapist of a 5 year old, too.
Fred Van Valkenburg is out of the office until something like the 24th of the month. I realize Monday is a holiday, but I would certainly hope that Tim Fox can see fit to have a state investigator in Missoula County’s County Attorney’s Office by Tuesday, beginning interviews and investigations into these state violations and unprosecuted cases.
Justice demands it.
Tim Fox focused a large part of his run for office on sexual predators of children, and his office did take swift action on that issue. It’s time for Tim Fox focus on sexual assault victims, many of whom are (or were) students at the University of Montana. Just as the USDOJ’s agreement with the University is being held up as a model for university and college campuses around the United States, Tim Fox’s intervention here into Missoula regarding violations of state laws concerning sexual assault can be a learning experience for communities around the state – and perhaps legislator’s also.