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Missoula County Attorney Defies Department of Justice [AUDIO]

Fred Van Valkenburg
photo by Peter Christian

On May 1st, the scope of the investigations into sexual assaults on the University of Montana campus and in the city of Missoula changed dramatically, with the arrival of a team from the Civil Rights Division of the U. S. Department of Education. Lead investigator Thomas Perez assured the agencies involved, the University of Montana, the City of Missoula, the Missoula Police Department and the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, that the addition of federal agencies would not be intrusive, but rather be helpful to the investigation. Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg was visibly angry that the federal government saw fit to look over the shoulders of local agencies for no apparent reason.


On Wednesday, Van Valkenburg directly refused to hand over details of various investigations currently under review by his office to the Department of Justice. Van Valkenburg says he still has not received what he believes to be valid proof that the Justice Department has any right to the information they seek. Van Valkenburg says he is willing to go to court to protect the integrity and confidentiality of his office’s investigations.

Due in great part to the ongoing sexual assault investigations, the University of Montana has toughened it’s student athlete conduct code, instituted a required on-line course about sexual assault for all students in the fall, and failed to renew the contracts of Athletic Director Jim O’ Day and head football coach Robin Pflugrad. Various national news outlets, including CNN, have focused on Missoula and the University of Montana, one even branding Missoula as ‘the rape capital of the USA’.

Sol far, only one University of Montana athlete, Beau Donaldson,  has been officially charged with a sex crime.

Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg

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