It's a new day at the Missoula County Attorney's office when it comes to dealing with the U.S. Justice Department and the State Attorney General regarding sexual assault investigations.

After only three weeks in office, Kirsten Pabst said the first report card released on Tuesday was full of superlatives for her office.

 

"We got our first report card, and we are in full compliance," Pabst said. "Along with the increased cooperation with the Attorney General's office, we've hired a victim - witness coordinator who's working very closely with the Crime Victims Advocate office."

Pabst said she has increased the staffing related to dealing with victims of sexual assault.

"My Special Victims Unit now has four dedicated prosecutors and a supervisor, so we have five people working on that, as well as our victim - witness coordinator," she said. "We've also designed a softer conference room for victims of violent and sexual crime. Our office is generally the last stop for them before they go into trial, so we've created a space that's much better for trial preparation."

"I've also appointed two training coordinators, one for prosecution training and I've also appointed a law enforcement training coordinator," she said. "That's someone to put together law enforcement briefings and to be a liaison with the law enforcement community."

Pabst said she wanted from her very first day to have a more open relationship with state and federal agencies when it comes to prosecuting sexual assaults.

"I wanted to have a more transparent ofice, so that our constituents and our community could see what we're doing and have the ability to provide input," she said. "I'm also working a little more closely with the media, so that we can communicate with the public more effectively."

The combative atmosphere under the former county attorney, Fred Van Valkenburg, has been changed with Pabst at the helm.

"We've also been working with agencies like the Department of Justice and the Attorney General's office who can help us do a better job," Pabst said. "We're excited about this first report card, and looking forward to even better things to come."