Missoula, Montana has seen reports of 80 rapes in the past three years, a figure which has shocked so many people that the Department of Justice is getting involved.
The DOJ Announced on Tuesday their intentions to investigate the Montana city, after allegations came forward that police may not be properly investigating or prosecuting sexual assaults because of gender discrimination.
They stated that they will also be launching an investigation at the University of Montana at Missoula, where at least 11 sexual complaints have been made recently. The federal probe follows the dismissal of university football head coach Robin Pflugrad, after two of his players were accused of rape.
Attorney General Eric Holder stated that:
“The allegations that the University of Montana, the local police department and the county attorney’s office failed to adequately address sexual assaults are very disturbing.”
Local authorities in Missoula, Montana have stated that 80 rapes in three years is average for a college town of 86,000 people. They have repeatedly questioned the justice department’s rationale for the probe. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez explained this by saying:
“There are a lot of women in the community who have strong concerns about the manner in which sexual assaults have been handled.”
Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir acknowledged the amount of rapes in the last three years, but believes that this figure is actually below average. He went on to say that his office will be cooperating with the investigation. Fred Van Valkenburg, Missoula County’s chief prosecutor, defended his office, as well as the local law enforcement, believing that the federal investigation is an, “overreach by the federal government.”
Van Valkenburg, who is a part of the investigation, which will address the possibility of suspects not being given proper sentences, also stated, “I have no reason to believe (police) violated anyone’s rights.” he also added adding that his office was forced to cooperate because of “the heavy hand of a federal government that refuses to tell us what we supposedly have done wrong.”