Missoula County Attorney

Mike Albans

When the U.S. Department of Justice started looking into how sexual assault cases were handled in Missoula in 2012, they found a lot of problems. That led the Department to try to establish oversight of the Missoula County Prosecutor’s office.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox ended up taking on that role. Yesterday, he said that his office’s oversight spelled out in a special legal agreement is no longer required.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox with Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst. Fox says the Missoula County Attorney's Office is now full in compliance with a 2014 agreement to improve its handling of sexual assault cases.
Mike Albans

Attorney General Tim Fox says the Missoula County Attorney's Office is now in full compliance with a 2014 agreement to improve its handling of sexual assault cases.

A 2012 federal investigation found sexual assaults were a low priority in the county attorney's office, and that county prosecutors lacked the training to investigate and prosecute such cases. It also found that victims of rape by acquaintances were often treated with disrespect.

The Missoula County Attorney says her predecessor may have improperly removed a box from what’s supposed to be a secure file storage area. Missoula police are investigating an alleged breach at the County Attorney’s secure file storage area. That’s where confidential criminal justice information is kept.

One of the two candidates for Missoula county attorney running in the Democratic primary will be the next county attorney - because there are no Republican candidates.
        That person will succeed the retiring incumbent Fred Van Valkenburg, who is locked in a fight with the federal Justice department over how his office has handled past sexual assault cases.
    Both the candidates - Kirsten Pabst and Josh Van de Wetering - have worked in the county attorney's office before and both are now in private practice.

The democratic primary race for Missoula county attorney is more high profile than usual this election - first, since there is no Republican candidate, the winner of the primary will be the next county attorney. Secondly, the current county attorney Fred Van Valkenburg has made headlines because of his legal fight with the federal Justice department over his office's past handling of sexual assault cases.

A Missoula County Commissioner believes County Attorney, Fred Van Valkenburg is throwing the commission “under the bus” in the county’s lawsuit against the federal Department of Justice.

The DOJ has been investigating how Missoula law enforcement, the University of Montana and the County Attorney’s Office handle sexual assault cases after a string of such crimes were brought to light in 2012.