DOJ Reaches Agreement with County Attorney to Resolve Investigat - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

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>>

  • Supreme Court allows Arizona execution to proceed

    Supreme Court allows Arizona execution to proceed

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:04 PM EDT2014-07-23 02:04:49 GMT
    Attorneys for the state of Arizona have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow an execution planned for Wednesday to proceed, saying Joseph Rudolph Wood can't establish he has a First Amendment right to the...
    The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed an Arizona execution to go forward amid a closely watched First Amendment fight over the secrecy surrounding lethal injection drugs in the country.
  • Crews make gains on massive Washington wildfire

    Crews make gains on massive Washington wildfire

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:11 PM EDT2014-07-23 01:11:14 GMT
    Firefighters and local authorities are heartened by weather forecasts that call for continued cooler temperatures and higher humidity as they battle a destructive wildfire that has charred hundreds of square miles...
    Firefighters were making progress Tuesday in their efforts to get the largest wildfire in Washington state's history under control, with wetter weather bringing some relief but also raising concerns about flash flooding.
  • New arrest linked to gun used after Boston attacks

    New arrest linked to gun used after Boston attacks

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:31 PM EDT2014-07-23 01:31:19 GMT
    A man believed to have provided the gun used by Boston Marathon bombing suspects to kill a college police officer has been arrested on drug and weapon charges.
    A friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is believed to have provided the handgun used to kill a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer during the manhunt, people with knowledge of the...
  • Most Popular

  • Regional NewsMore>>

  • Prevent house fires with defensible space!

    Prevent house fires with defensible space!

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:14:44 GMT
    KHQ.COM - In these extremely challenging weather conditions, State Fire Marshal Chuck Duffy is urging residents to inspect and maintain the defensible space around their homes. Defensible space can dramatically increase your home’s chances of surviving a disastrous wildfire, and can be accomplished through careful planning and vegetation management.
    KHQ.COM - In these extremely challenging weather conditions, State Fire Marshal Chuck Duffy is urging residents to inspect and maintain the defensible space around their homes. Defensible space can dramatically increase your home’s chances of surviving a disastrous wildfire, and can be accomplished through careful planning and vegetation management.
  • Government selling home connected to Henrikson

    Government selling home connected to Henrikson

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-07-22 16:05:36 GMT
    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The U.S. attorney's office plans to sell a home connected to a man who has been questioned in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme in Spokane, Washington, and is awaiting trial on weapons charges in North Dakota. The case centers on James Henrikson, who had business dealings in North Dakota's oil patch with a man who was killed by an intruder in his Spokane home.
    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The U.S. attorney's office plans to sell a home connected to a man who has been questioned in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme in Spokane, Washington, and is awaiting trial on weapons charges in North Dakota. The case centers on James Henrikson, who had business dealings in North Dakota's oil patch with a man who was killed by an intruder in his Spokane home.
  • INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:51 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:51:52 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:51 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:51:52 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.
  • Many Frustrated By Stalled Cobell Settlements

    Many Frustrated By Stalled Cobell Settlements

    Wednesday, July 16 2014 9:30 PM EDT2014-07-17 01:30:30 GMT
    In Congress Wednesday, the group in charge of doling out Cobell settlement claims says it's waiting on setting exact amounts and a judge's okay before making the rest of the payments.
    In Congress Wednesday, the group in charge of doling out Cobell settlement claims says it's waiting on setting exact amounts and a judge's okay before making the rest of the payments.
  • UPDATE: Search and Rescue Efforts Continue for Flathead Kayaker

    UPDATE: Search and Rescue Efforts Continue for Flathead Kayaker

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:04 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:04:28 GMT
    The search for a missing kayaker will continue Monday on Flathead Lake, it's surrounding shores and the Flathead River, after he's been missing for more than 24 hours.
    The search for a missing kayaker will continue Monday on Flathead Lake, it's surrounding shores and the Flathead River, after he's been missing for more than 24 hours.
  • FIRST ON KHQ.COM: Clay Starbuck Sentenced To Life In Prison Without Parole

    FIRST ON KHQ.COM: Clay Starbuck Sentenced To Life In Prison Without Parole

    Thursday, July 18 2013 8:07 PM EDT2013-07-19 00:07:03 GMT
    UPDATE: A Spokane County judge has sentenced Clay Starbuck to life in prison without the possibility of parole for torturing and killing his ex-wife.
    UPDATE: A Spokane County judge has sentenced Clay Starbuck to life in prison without the possibility of parole for torturing and killing his ex-wife. The 48-year-old Deer Park man was convicted by a jury last month and sentenced on Thursday.
  • Carlton Complex Fire now 250,136 acres; 2,100+ firefighters on scene

    Carlton Complex Fire now 250,136 acres; 2,100+ firefighters on scene

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 2:46 PM EDT2014-07-22 18:46:43 GMT
    UPDATE: The Carlton Complex is now the largest wild land fire ever to burn in the State of Washington. The perimeter of this fire is more than 100 miles long. The total acreage burned is 250,136 acres. A total of 2110 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to the incident. The fire is 16% contained.
    UPDATE: The Carlton Complex is now the largest wild land fire ever to burn in the State of Washington. The perimeter of this fire is more than 100 miles long. The total acreage burned is 250,136 acres. A total of 2110 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to the incident. The fire is 16% contained.
  • So Good: Fast Pitch Duo of Ray and Walker

    So Good: Fast Pitch Duo of Ray and Walker

    Wednesday, July 16 2014 7:57 PM EDT2014-07-16 23:57:19 GMT
    After being some of the state's best for separate teams in different cities, Frenchtown's Morgan Ray and Deer Lodge's Dani Walker have combined forces on the Montana Avalanche Fastpitch softball team.
    After being some of the state's best for separate teams in different cities, Frenchtown's Morgan Ray and Deer Lodge's Dani Walker have combined forces on the Montana Avalanche Fastpitch softball team.
  • Bugg Road fire near Tonasket

    Bugg Road fire near Tonasket

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 2:29 PM EDT2014-07-22 18:29:21 GMT
    KHQ.COM- UPDATE: The Bugg Road fire burning 7 miles east of Tonasket, WA and has destroyed one structure and expanded to 1,700 acres on Tuesday.This fire started on Monday and by the end of the day had burned 1,000 acres. Air support and dozers are trying to keep the fire in check.
    KHQ.COM- UPDATE: The Bugg Road fire burning 7 miles east of Tonasket, WA and has destroyed one structure and expanded to 1,700 acres on Tuesday.This fire started on Monday and by the end of the day had burned 1,000 acres. Air support and dozers are trying to keep the fire in check.
  • Pateros Man Helps Save School From Fire

    Pateros Man Helps Save School From Fire

    Monday, July 21 2014 3:28 AM EDT2014-07-21 07:28:32 GMT
    The town of Pateros has hit particularly hard by the Carlton Complex Fire, more than 100 homes have been lost there.
    The town of Pateros has hit particularly hard by the Carlton Complex Fire, more than 100 homes have been lost there.
Powered by WorldNow

Features

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