The New York Times posted an article entitled, “Accusation in Montana of Treating Rape Lightly Stirs Unlikely Public Fight.” Federal investigators released a 20-page report regarding Missoula’s disregarded sexual assault cases. There were so many that the report stated, “women in Missoula at increased risk of harm.” There is even a report of a prosecutor telling a mother that “boys will be boys,” after her 5 year old daughter was raped.
Instead of assuring the public and now the nation that there would be reform, elected county attorney Fred Van Valkenburg holds to his thinking that his office has done nothing wrong. Any inquiries regarding mistreatment of victims have been met with denials. He is battling against the report arguing the Justice Department had no legal right to investigate his office and that this report is all a lie.
This democratic elected official has had this position for the last 15 years and is not running for reelection. Considering the extremely negative publicity I think that’s a wise choice. His unwillingness to cooperate or even reach a settlement to make changes to an obviously research problem makes me wonder what he has stands to lose should this be investigated further. What is he trying to hide?
Missoula’s mayor along with newly elected police chief published an article in response in The Missoulian that distances their response away from Valkenburg’s, stating that they are working to correct this problem and treating sexual-assault victims with more respect and care. These two responses show a very different PR approach. While Valkenburg is maintaining his innocence so to speak, creating an unproductive fight, other elected officials are creating a counter campaign to create a solution to the fact the women are being sexually assaulted, reporting it and not seeing any justice. With the war on women such a prevalent political platform, you’d think the unanimous response to this report would be shame and immediate reform.