Missoula County Attorney Responds to DOJ Charges – Attorney General Request for Information [AUDIO] [DOCUMENT]
Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jennifer Clark has released a letter from Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg regarding the charges leveled against his office on February 14 by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Clark referenced a report that Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has requested charging information from the Department of Justice.
"The letter from the Attorney General's office is focusing on whether or not there's an abuse of discretion by the local prosecutor's office," Clark said. "That was something earlier on, that the Department of Justice said they were not looking at. Their allegations were looking into matters of possible gender bias. It appears that there was an agreement between the Department of Justice and the Attorney General's office that if there were any discretion questions, that the Attorney General's office had the authority to investigate that."
Clark reacted to the charges against her and the other staff members in the county attorney's office contained in the Department of Justice report.
"It was very hurtful when we all read it." Clark said. "Our staff is very dedicated and they work hard for victims. I've worked with many of our staff for years, and I can't imagine anybody treating a victim disrespectfully. We go through training every year. Some of our staff go through specialized training in sexual assault and sexual intercourse without consent cases. We're also a very collaborative office. We discuss our cases amongst ourselves in the office to get extra input into analyzing evidence, and whether to go forward with a case."
Clark said the county attorney's staff will continue to serve the public, despite the charges from the DOJ.
"We're going to continue to represent the victims they way they deserve to be represented," Clark said. "We're going to continue to prosecute the cases that we are able, and we're going to continue serving the public."
Van Valkenburg's lawsuit against the Department of Justice seeks a ruling by a federal judge over whether or not the Department of Justice has any jurisdiction over the way the local county attorney's office investigates sexual assaults.
Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jennifer Clark