DOJ Reaches Agreement with County Attorney to Resolve Investigat - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

DOJ Reaches Agreement with County Attorney to Resolve Investigation

Posted: Updated:
MISSOULA - A two-year battle between the Missoula County Attorney and the U.S. Department of Justice comes to a close.

In May of 2012, the DOJ investigation revealed alleged gender bias and discrimination in the prosecution of sexual assaults by the County Attorney's Office.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the DOJ, County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg and Attorney General Tim Fox announced a settlement on those findings.

The settlement states the Attorney General's Office will now oversee the County Attorney Office's handling of sexual assault cases.

It's a compromise, and Van Valkenburg maintains his office still would have won if the matter had gone to federal court.

Van Valkenburg said, "Men and women at the Missoula County Attorney's Office have been and will continue to be committed to seeking justice and protecting victims."

The County Attorney's Office will develop new training for prosecutors, improve communication with law enforcement and victims, and improve data tracking through the criminal justice system.

Michael Cotter, a U.S. Attorney, said, "The County Attorney's Office will act promptly, adequately and fairly to seek justice for victims of sexual assault."

Attorney General Tim Fox will oversee the implementation of the new requirements, as he has oversight authority over all Montana County Attorneys.

"We've also committed to asking legislature for additional funds for expert witnesses in sexual assault cases," he said.

Missoula County Commissioners approved the use of $210,000 for one year to fund a technical advisor and victim coordinator and to hire expert witnesses. Technical director Anne Munch will provide training and report back to the Attorney General on the County Attorney Office's progress.

"To ensure that survivors of sexual assault in Missoula are treated with dignity and respect and have the full protection of the criminal justice system," Jocelyn Samuels, of DOJ Civil Rights Division said.

As part of the agreement, Van Valkenburg will also dismiss the pending declaratory judgment action, while the DOJ agrees not to file any legal action against the County Attorney's Office.

Van Valkenburg says he supports today's agreement, but that support is primarily out of his respect for the Attorney General.

"I am confident that the DOJ's utterly unfair claims of authority and discrimination would not have succeeded in court," he said.

Attorney General Tim Fox and Van Valkenburg have committed to having improved policies in place within 90 days after signing a contract with the new technical director.

The settlement resolves the last component of the Department of Justice's investigation into Missoula's response to sexual assault.

The initial investigation was launched in May of 2012, after women made complaints about the handling of sexual assault cases.

In May of 2013, the DOJ entered into agreements with the University of Montana and UM's Office of Public Safety, which required the organizations to improve their response to reports of sexual assault.

One week later, the Missoula Police Department also entered an agreement with the DOJ.

In February of this year, federal investigators released their letter of findings into the county attorney's office.



Missoula organizations have taken big steps in improving the city and county's response to reports of rape in recent months.

A new Missoula Police unit dedicated to violent crime cases recently moved into new office space near the station. It houses six detectives-- all dedicated to tackling child abuse, sexual assault, and other violent crime cases.

MPD also added two interview rooms with soft chairs and lighting to make victims feel more comfortable.

Police, the university, 911 dispatchers, and St. Patrick Hospital are also auditing the city's criminal justice system. The audit team will release a report with recommendations to participating agencies and to the public in mid-December.



The Department of Justice has entered into a comprehensive agreement with the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, the County of Missoula and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox to resolve the DOJ’s investigation of the County Attorney’s Office’s response to reports of sexual assault.

The agreement requires the County Attorney’s Office to:
  • Develop and implement effective sexual assault policies and training for prosecutors;
  • Improve treatment of individuals who report sexual assault, including in-person interviews and better communication while a matter is pending;
  • Use prosecution techniques that have been shown to result in better sexual assault investigations and that have been adopted in other prosecutor’s offices across the country;
  • Improve communication and coordination with other Missoula stakeholders regarding sexual assault response; and
  • Improve tracking and sharing of data regarding sexual assault prosecutions, so that the County Attorney’s Office has a broader picture of what it is doing and can better identify any general concerns or necessary improvements.
You can find a full transcript of acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Jocelyn Samuels speech at today's press conference here. 

The DOJ's press release on the agreement can be found here.

  • NationalMore>>

  • Officer charged in hot-car death of police dog

    Officer charged in hot-car death of police dog

    Saturday, August 23 2014 1:35 AM EDT2014-08-23 05:35:11 GMT
    A Wyoming police officer has pleaded not guilty to an animal cruelty charge that alleges a police dog died after he left it in a hot patrol car for several hours.
    A Wyoming police officer has pleaded not guilty to an animal-cruelty charge that alleges a police dog died after he left it in a hot patrol car for several hours.
  • Wash. flash flooding damages estimated 10 homes

    Wash. flash flooding damages estimated 10 homes

    Saturday, August 23 2014 1:14 AM EDT2014-08-23 05:14:58 GMT
    Officials in an area of north-central Washington scarred by massive wildfires say heavy rains unleashed mudslides that damaged or destroyed 10 homes and blocked highways.
    Heavy rains that unleashed mud slides in an area of north-central Washington where hillsides have been left barren by wildfires damaged or destroyed an estimated 10 homes and blocked highways, officials said Friday.
  • New fear: What happens in Ferguson if no charges?

    New fear: What happens in Ferguson if no charges?

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:35 PM EDT2014-08-23 03:35:13 GMT
    The streets of Ferguson have been peaceful for another night, as protests and tensions have been subsiding in the St. Louis suburb where unrest had erupted for several nights after a white police officer fatally...
    Conditions calmed this week in Ferguson after nights of sometimes violent unrest stemming from the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer. But a delicate and crucial question lingers: What happens...
  • Most Popular

  • Regional NewsMore>>

  • Teachers Say Parents Can Do Their Part to Prepare Their Kids for School

    Teachers Say Parents Can Do Their Part to Prepare Their Kids for School

    Friday, August 22 2014 9:27 PM EDT2014-08-23 01:27:10 GMT
    Parents can make sure their kids are prepared for the school year.Parents can make sure their kids are prepared for the school year.
    Teachers are prepared for a new school year but parents can help students get ready mentally.  
    Teachers are prepared for a new school year but parents can help students get ready mentally.  
  • Richland Post Office Will Relocate to New Location

    Richland Post Office Will Relocate to New Location

    Friday, August 22 2014 9:23 PM EDT2014-08-23 01:23:36 GMT
    The new location will open Monday at 639 Cullum Avenue.The new location will open Monday at 639 Cullum Avenue.
    The Richland Main post office will open at a new location on Monday.  
    The Richland Main post office will open at a new location on Monday.  
  • PHOTOS: Harvest 2014

    PHOTOS: Harvest 2014

    Friday, August 22 2014 7:50 PM EDT2014-08-22 23:50:16 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - One of the great parts about living in Spokane, is if you head out of town in any direction, you're going to run into some beautiful farm land. I grew up south of Spokane, near Plaza, and one of my favorite things to do was to sit on the porch at night and stare south towards Rosalia at all of the rolling hills of wheat, lentils, barley and peas. 
    SPOKANE, Wash. - One of the great parts about living in Spokane, is if you head out of town in any direction, you're going to run into some beautiful farm land. I grew up south of Spokane, near Plaza, and one of my favorite things to do was to sit on the porch at night and stare south towards Rosalia at all of the rolling hills of wheat, lentils, barley and peas. 
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Seven Arrested in Kalispell Sex Sting

    Seven Arrested in Kalispell Sex Sting

    Friday, August 22 2014 3:10 PM EDT2014-08-22 19:10:39 GMT
    A four-day online sex sting ends with the arrest of seven Flathead men for sexual abuse of children, and more arrests are pending.
    A four-day online sex sting ends with the arrest of seven Flathead men for sexual abuse of children, and more arrests are pending.
  • Cobell Settlement Checks Could Be Mailed By Fall 2014

    Cobell Settlement Checks Could Be Mailed By Fall 2014

    Friday, August 15 2014 9:03 PM EDT2014-08-16 01:03:47 GMT
    The people in charge of doling out money in the Cobell settlement want to put checks in the mail by this fall.
    The people in charge of doling out money in the Cobell settlement want to put checks in the mail by this fall.
  • PHOTOS: Harvest 2014

    PHOTOS: Harvest 2014

    Friday, August 22 2014 7:50 PM EDT2014-08-22 23:50:16 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - One of the great parts about living in Spokane, is if you head out of town in any direction, you're going to run into some beautiful farm land. I grew up south of Spokane, near Plaza, and one of my favorite things to do was to sit on the porch at night and stare south towards Rosalia at all of the rolling hills of wheat, lentils, barley and peas. 
    SPOKANE, Wash. - One of the great parts about living in Spokane, is if you head out of town in any direction, you're going to run into some beautiful farm land. I grew up south of Spokane, near Plaza, and one of my favorite things to do was to sit on the porch at night and stare south towards Rosalia at all of the rolling hills of wheat, lentils, barley and peas. 
  • Sheriff Deputy Dunn Memorial

    Sheriff Deputy Dunn Memorial

    Thursday, August 21 2014 8:43 PM EDT2014-08-22 00:43:09 GMT
    Full coverage from the memorial of Deputy Joe Dunn.

    Full coverage from the memorial of Deputy Joe Dunn.


  • PHOTOS: Flash flooding & mudslides trap people in Okanogan County

    PHOTOS: Flash flooding & mudslides trap people in Okanogan County

    Friday, August 22 2014 9:12 PM EDT2014-08-23 01:12:14 GMT
    OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash.- Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers tells KHQ that as of 5:00pm Friday evening, Highway 20 is back open and no homes are threaten after numerous mudslides washed out roads and stranded drivers Thursday night and Friday morning. 
    OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash.- Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers tells KHQ that as of 5:00pm Friday evening, Highway 20 is back open and no homes are threaten after numerous mudslides washed out roads and stranded drivers Thursday night and Friday morning. 
Powered by WorldNow

Sports

  • Sports
  • Community

  • Community
  • Powered by WorldNow
    All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and Max Media. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.