D O J Investigation Targets University of Montana Office of Public Safety – County Attorney Could Face Litigation [AUDIO]
At the Thursday, May 9 press conference featuring Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division's Roy Austin, U. S. Attorney for Montana Mike Cotter and University of Montana President Royce Engstrom, steps to address the problem of sexual assault were spelled out.
Austin specifically targeted The University of Montana's Office of Public Safety and the training they must undergo to bring the university into compliance with the Department of Justice's guidelines.
"When they( students on campus) have an incident occur with them, they need to know exactly where to go, and what's going to happen when they get there," Austin said. "The people who are making the evaluation need to know what to do. They have to know what to do from the Office of Public safety. When the Office of Public Safety receives information about an incident, they need to know what to do with the Missoula Police Department, and they need to know what to do with the county attorney, and so all those people need to be trained as to what exactly they are supposed to be doing."
Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin
At the May, 1, 2012 initial press conference introducing the investigation, Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg defied the U. S. Attorney's demand for access to his office's files and investigations. At Thursday's press conference, Austin was asked directly about any possible repercussions for the county attorney and his unwillingness to cooperate.
"We have the authority to bring litigation," Austin said. "A judge could potentially impose what we are trying to seek here. If we present our evidence, and a judge supports our findings, then cooperation could be imposed on the administration that we are investigating."
Reached on Thursday afternoon, Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg challenged the U. S. Attorney to take him to court.
"We've told the Department of Justice people from the very beginning that if they want to pursue litigation, they should go ahead and do that," Van Valkenburg said. "I don't believe they have any legal authority to investigate our office, because we've done nothing wrong.
"I'm confident," Van Valkenburg concluded, "if they try to litigate this issue, we'll win and they'll lose."
Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg