Dispute between Missoula county attorney and feds could still end up in court

Jan 10, 2014

Missoula county attorney Fred Van Valkenburg is willing to negotiate a "memorandum of understanding" with the federal Justice department, as a way of resolving DOJ's concerns about the way the county attorney's office has handled past sexual assault investigations.   The offer is contained in a letter written by Van Valkenburg and sent to U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter.

"I think someone has called their bluff and they're not used to that."

Missoula county attorney Fred Van Valkenburg at an earlier press conference, with former DOJ assistant attorney general (and current Labor secretary) Thomas Perez taking notes
Credit Kurt Wilson, Missoulian

The Justice department has reached settlement agreements with the Missoula police department and the University of Montana, on how they will handle sexual assault allegations. Van Valkenburg refused to agree to a settlement, arguing DOJ has no authority over his office, and the letter he sent this week repeats that assertion. Van Valkenburg also again says he's willing to go to court to challenge DOJ's authority. The county commissioners will ultimately make that decision if no agreement is reached.

News Director Sally Mauk spoke with Van Valkenburg about his letter - and what he thinks will happen next.