The Department of Justice released a firm statement Friday following the conclusion of an investigation that found prosecutors in Montana’s Missoula County said “terrible things” to victims of sexual assault and operated with a gender bias.
According to the DOJ, “There is substantial evidence that the County Attorney’s response to sexual assault discriminates against women” and “engages in gender discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution as well as relevant federal laws.” In fact, prosecutors allegedly told a mother whose 5-year-old daughter had been assaulted by a teenager that “boys will be boys” and insisted to another woman that “all you want is revenge,” according to the Independent Record.
“Prosecutors play a critical role in ensuring that women victims of sexual assault have effective and equal access to criminal justice,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division said in a press release.
“We uncovered evidence of a disturbing pattern of deficiencies in the handling of these cases by the County Attorney’s Office, a pattern that not only denies victims meaningful access to justice, but places the safety of all women in Missoula at risk,” he continued. “We hope that this letter will enable us to move forward with constructive discussions with the County Attorney to resolve these serious concerns.”
The report came just days after County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg filed a motion asking a U.S. District Court Judge to determine whether or not the DOJ has jurisdiction over his office and dismissed it as political posturing.
According to the Record, Van Valkenburg appeared surprised the DOJ would release the report on a Friday afternoon before a three-day weekend.
“First and foremost, I think that this is one of the most unfair, unethical things that I have witnessed in 35 years of public life,” Van Valkenburg reportedly said. “For the DOJ to dump this report on the news media at virtually 5 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, three days after we have filed a complaint for judicial relief, is totally irresponsible.”
“They are trying to manipulate the news in a very, very unfair fashion,” he added, noting that he will push forward with legal action against the DOJ.
(H/T: Raw Story)
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