Missoula County Attorney – ‘We Will Do Better’ Dealing With Sexual Assault [WATCH]
"We will do better'.
That was the theme on Wednesday afternoon as Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst delivered her address to the press and interested onlookers in the Missoula County Courthouse.
Flanked by her staff of prosecutors, Pabst began her address by acknowledging the release of Jon Krakaeur's book, 'Missoula; Rape and the Justice System in a College Town'.
"Yesterday, a book was released about Missoula, our town," Pabst said. "It addressed the very heartbreaking issue and challenges surrounding the subject of acquaintance rape, an important challenge that affects many of us. I echo the comments made yesterday by University of Montana President Royce Engstrom, who said we have strong relationships with officials, the business community and groups across our valley, and when our community faces challenges, we work together to find answers."
Pabst then began a primer on what it means to be a chief prosecutor, to be the voice of the people in a court case, someone who cannot be motivated by emotion, but rather by the law and the facts of the case.
"The author (Krakauer) wrote on the assumption that a prosecutor's job is to blindly seek convictions," she said. "In reality, our job is to seek the truth and to do justice, which requires balance and an open and communicative approach."
Pabst said the book has helped to focus her attention on improving the way her office deals with sexual assault investigations.
"As a direct result of that introspection we now have procedures in place that ensure timely communication, as well as the availability of resources," Pabst said. "We have improved by making our work more victim-centered, rather that being process-oriented."
Pabst said that her address was not the time 'to refute the many factual errors in the book'.
"While the charges that the author has made against me, my office, my predecessor, are inaccurate, exaggerated and unnecessarily personal, he is correct that our investigation and prosecution standards needed to be improved," she said.
She wrapped up her address by detailing the many improvements made within her office to help deal with sexual assault victims, with special advocates and counselors.
"Because we love Missoula and we'll all be better for it, and because it's the right thing to do," she said. "We'll be better for looking back, better for looking in and better for looking forward."