DOJ: Prosecutor Said 'Boys Will Be Boys' About Rape Case

Feds say it's part of a 'disturbing pattern' in Montana's Missoula County
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2014 12:18 PM CST

(Newser) – The Justice Department thinks prosecutors in the Missoula County Attorney's Office in Montana take reports of sexual assaults so lightly that it "places the safety of all women in Missoula at risk," reports Mother Jones. It's not the first time DOJ has gotten involved, but the magazine obtained a letter from the DOJ sent to the office of County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg, with some examples:

  • After an adolescent boy sexually assaulted a 5-year-old girl and got only a sentence of community service, the prosecutor handling the case told the girl's mother that "boys will be boys."

  • One woman told the DOJ that after she reported a sexual assault, a county attorney read her passages from the Bible "in a way that the victim interpreted to mean that the Deputy County Attorney was judging her negatively for (having) made the report."
  • A young woman said she declined to report that she'd been gang-raped as a University of Montana student because of others' experiences dealing with the department. One woman, for example, said she had been discouraged from pursuing a case because a county attorney told her, "All you want is revenge."
Van Valkenburg is incensed at the report and says the DOJ doesn't have the evidence to back it up, reports the Missoulian. The feds are demanding changes, but van Valkenburg has filed a legal motion to determine whether the department has jurisdiction over his office. Previously, the Missoula police department and the university accepted DOJ recommendations on how to better handle rape cases. (Read more Department of Justice stories.)

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