Archive for February 18th, 2014

by jhwygirl

The Missoula Police Department are investigating a sexual assault on campus. A 19-year old woman has apparently reported a rape, and an 18-year old, known to the woman, is being questioned.

The article is brief, I’m sure because so little is known. That’s not to denigrate the Missoulian, and I’m glad for their reporting, however brief.

What struck me was was last sentence:

Welsh wouldn’t identify whose dorm room it was and said he didn’t know if alcohol played a role in the assault.

I don’t know – it seemed out of place Did public information office offer the statement? Was he asked?

No does mean no.

So was that statement in the context of ‘maybe the guy was drunk, which is why it happened’ as if it were some degree of a mitigating factor? An excuse for why this happened?

Or was it more in the sense of ‘the female might of been drinking,’ so anything she says might not be true?

Perhaps alcohol played a factor because xanax or rohypnol was dropped in the drink?

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me – but if there isn’t much known about the case, maybe alcohol shouldn’t be mentioned until it’s known whether – indeed – alcohol did play a factor. And if it did, it should be mentioned in its full contact.

Because, you know, the mere presence of alcohol isn’t an excuse to rape someone.

And without context, mentioning alcohol perpetuates the myth that it is.

by jhwygirl

Don, over at Intelligent Discontent, called for Van Valkenburg’s removal on Friday. I fired this off the next day, not realizing it until afterwards. Does look like we’ve got the good ole’ days of Montana blogging going – an old fashioned blogswarm!

It’s nice to see Liz taking on local politics. I’m particularly glad he immediately jumped on the recent DOJ report with a pointed finger towards Missoula democrats (Thanks for Nothing, Missoula Democrats.) His post illustrates – for me, at least – the dangers of bringing too much friendship and loyalty into issues that aren’t purely political. It’s the citizens that suffer, and if the contents of the USDOJ investigation don’t show it, then nothing does.

I’ve come out of my cave to call as publicly as this blog allows for Van Valkenburg to go. Now, I don’t care if he resigns or if he retires early and with no real notice or if the County Commissioners fire him – but the twenty pages of USDOJ indictment isn’t enough, consider that even if they’re wrong about 50% of it, it’s still enough to call for this woefully inadequate attorney to go.

Hell – even if all but the one act of his office refusing to prosecute a rape where the rapist confessed isn’t true, then Van Valkenburg needs to go. Read just page 14 if you don’t believe me.

Now, my call for Van Valkenburg to go is absent the implication that the entirety of the USDOJ letter surely doesn’t detail incidents that were all immediate acts by Fred Van Valkenburg – the county’s got 17 under attorneys, with a portion of them in the criminal division – but this was all under his leadership. Twenty pages don’t lie. It establishes the pattern I’ve spoken about with dozens of people – many who have gotten so mad that they’ve left spittle on my face – and it leaves no faith that the Missoula County Attorney’s Office can recover under his leadership.

There is a 10-year statute of limitation on rape here in Montana. The USDOJ’s investigation looked back to 2008. Many of these rapes can still be prosecuted, especially when we are talking about rapes where the rapist confessed, or rapes where the rapist all but said the words “yes, I raped her.”

Do I want to see an office headed up by Van Valkenburg prosecute those?

Nope. Go to page 12 and read. Does anything there sound faintly like the Jordan Johnson case? The lack of a full fledged prosecution of a rape case? After reading that my anger once again rose, and my heart broke for the victim who stood so bravely in the face of what was not only the Johnson defense team, but a county attorney’s office that had the commitment to a conviction similar to the attention span of a two-year old.

Yep. It’s time for Missoula to quit circling the wagons – especially the County Commissioners who, very recently, continued to invest faith (and money) into Van Valkenburg’s ill advice. This rape scandal is not an attack, as Lizard recently noted, on the Missoula economy It is not an attack on the Griz football team.

This rape scandal is, now, a well-deserving attack on Van Valkenburg’s legacy of leadership of the Missoula County Attorney’s Office. A failed leadership, nearly half of which is documented is the USDOJ investigative report.

So many have put faith into every ill-advised word of Van Valkenburg – including his premise that his office couldn’t be investigated by the USDOJ because he was an elected official. A ludicrous position when you consider that sheriffs around this nation are elected and they’ve been investigated by the USDOJ for decades.

It’s time for Missoula County Commissioners to take a clue from their Tea Party-loving counterparts to the south. Ravalli County Commissioners didn’t think twice about firing the elected County Treasurer once they saw sufficient and overwhelming anecdotal evidence that she wasn’t doing her job.

Before Ravalli County Commissioners even brought in the auditor to obtain solid proof of wrongdoing, they had the county sheriff escort the elected County Treasurer from the building, and placed her on paid leave.

Now – my preference would be that Van Valkenburg leave of his own volition – that county taxpayers not be burdened with paying this man anything more. Perhaps under that set-up, he’d still be entitled to his pension. That way the local bartenders won’t suffer.

But as it stands now, Van Valkenburg isn’t going to be around long enough to turn the festering diseased criminal division of his office around. And now that’s he’s poked at thr feds w/his frivolous lawsuit questioning their authority to investigate him – summarily dismissed in the USDOJ report, and I expect the same in court – he certainly isn’t the guy who should be negotiating a settlement with the feds. Plainly speaking, it isn’t in the past, present or future sexual assault victim’s interests, and it certainly isn’t in Missoula County’s. Time to go. NOW.

Post script: Huge shout-out to the attorneys I know in the state criminal defenders office, who have taken the time over the last three years to explain to me the dozens of reasons Fred should go. Missoula needs to know that Fred has left dozens of dead bodies (literally and figuratively) in his wake, and this USDOJ investigation is just one facet of his horrible inadequacies.

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