Women's Issues

Montana Prosecutor Responds To Sexual Assault Of 5-Year-Old Girl With ‘Boys Will Be Boys’

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shutterstock_126022004__1392670381_142.196.167.223The Department of Justice sent a letter to the Missoula County Attorney’s Office in Montana last Friday, alleging that it has found “substantial evidence” the County Attorney’s response to sexual assault discriminates against women. If what the DOJ alleges is true, this is some of the most disturbing stuff I have read in regards to the handling of victims of sexual assault and their assailants.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division says in the letter, “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.” The investigation uncovered the following:

Despite their prevalence in the community, sexual assaults of adult women are given low priority in the County Attorney’s Office;

The County Attorney does not provide Deputy County Attorneys with the basic knowledge and training about sexual assault necessary to effectively and impartially investigate and prosecute these cases;

The County Attorney’s Office generally does not develop evidence in support of sexual assault prosecutions, either on its own or in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies

Adult women victims, particularly victims of non-stranger sexual assault and rape, are often treated with disrespect, not informed of the status of their case and revictimized by the process;  and

The County Attorney’s Office routinely fails to engage in the most basic communication about its cases of sexual assault with law enforcement and advocacy partners.

From Mother Jones:

…in one instance, a deputy county attorney in Missoula allegedly quoted religious passages to a woman who’d reported sexual assault “in a way that the victim interpreted to mean that the Deputy County Attorney was judging her negatively for have made the report.” In another case, the Justice Department spoke to a woman whose daughter was sexually assaulted, at the age of five, by an adolescent boy, who was sentenced to two years of community service for the crime. A prosecutor handling the case allegedly told the mother that “boys will be boys.” Another sexual-assault victim discussing prosecution options was allegedly told by a deputy county attorney, “All you want is revenge.”

“Boys will be boys.” Really?

The Justice Department also claims there are several women who declined to press charges against their assailants because of the negative reports they had heard about the office. Can you blame them? One of the county attorneys issued a response to Mother Jones that everything the DOJ was alleging was “false” and accused them of being unethical and pushing a political agenda. What political agenda would that be? Making sure sexual assaults are prosecuted instead of shrugged off as unimportant? The DOJ even found that in some cases Missoula police officers secured enough evidence for a conviction but declined to pursue the cases:

According to the DOJ, in one case, police obtained a confession from a man who admitted to raping a woman while she was unconscious, and recommended that he be charged with rape and car theft. The prosecutor’s office allegedly declined to bring charges, citing “insufficient evidence.”

And that’s not the only example they cite of actually having a confession but still not moving forward with charges; “The DOJ determined that the prosecutor’s office declined to prosecute “nearly every case” involving nonstranger assaults on adult women who had a mental or physical disability, or who were intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.”

If what the letter alleges is true, this is not just a travesty of justice it’s a systemic undoing of victim’s rights and and outright assault on women. Disgusting. Read the Mother Jones article.

(photo: Peshkova/ Shutterstock)


  1. AnonyMouse

    February 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Boys will be boys? I despise this excuse that is given for certain male behaviors. The problem is (some not all) men and boys use this as an excuse to behave in certain ways because they see it as a free pass. It is double standard nonsense, just like it’s ok for men to be promiscuous , but not women. What about people be people or humanity be humane? Gender should have nothing to do with what is acceptable or unacceptable.

    • SarahJesness

      February 17, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      When I hear “boys will be boys”, it translates to “I think boys and men are incapable of controlling their actions”. If that was really true… Why are they allowed to walk around without supervision? If there’s a mentally ill person who randomly starts stabbing people due to his mental illness, we don’t let him continue going around on his own because he can’t really control his actions.

      My point? Anyone who uses “boys will be boys” to excuse things like sexual assault and rape should support measures that require boys and men to stay in facilities where they will always be supervised, since they apparently can’t be trusted to not hurt people when left alone.

    • Angela

      February 17, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      I agree and I’ve heard people use it to excuse some pretty deplorable things like bullying and even date rape. But the idea that anyone could think that molesting 5 year olds is just your typical adolescent male shenanigan just completely boggles my mind. It makes me wonder whether there’s ANY behavior that the prosecutor would deem inappropriate for young men. Armed robbery? Serial killing?

    • Alexandra

      February 18, 2014 at 8:07 am

      I’m not defending them at all, but the article doesn’t specify – it says the 5 year old was assaulted “by an adolescent boy”. Is that 13 or 6 years old? There’s a huge difference.

    • Kelly

      February 18, 2014 at 8:16 am

      Yeah, I wondered that too. Is this another kid in her kindergarten class or a high school kid? There is a massive, enormous difference between those two scenarios.

    • evilstepmom

      February 18, 2014 at 9:58 am

      I am not saying you are wrong at all, but my guess in reading this article would be common usage of “adolescent” for “teen”. While it may fit the definition, it is rare to hear a young child of 6 or 7 referred to as an adolescent.

    • Hannah

      February 18, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      I read in the Mother Jones article that he was 12.

  2. Crusty Socks

    February 17, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Terrorists bomb (something of significance in) Montana and their response is:

    “terrorists will be terrorists”

    • Boreal Explorer

      February 17, 2014 at 9:11 pm

      There’s nothing of significance in West Dakota.

  3. RayneofCastamere

    February 17, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Boys will be boys? Really? That’s this douchebag’s excuse? As if that poor girl didn’t go through a horrific experience and all males are rapists? REALLY?

    I really hope Anonymous gets a hold of this. They got the eyes of the world on Steubenville, let’s see if they can’t bring it again here.

    • MellyG

      February 18, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      That’s the reason i hate the “boys will be boys” – no, not ALL boys will be boys. Many men, and boys, are wonderful and considerate and NOT RAPISTS. To insinuate that all men are sexual predators at heart, and some just hide it better, is REALLY insulting to the male gender

  4. Alex

    February 17, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    We lived in Missoula for five years, during which my wife was a volunteer advocate at the Sexual Assault Resource Center at the university there and also at the local YWCA chapter. We personally knew many assault survivors that I legitimately lost count (including I’m certain more that we never knew about), and we can attest that every word of the press release is accurate.

    This has been a problem for a long time and the County prosecutor’s primary objection to the DOJ’s investigation has always been politically motivated, by which he means an overreach of jurisdiction and authority. You have to understand that this a nontrivial concern and not without merit with regards to the general relationship between the state of Montana and the federal government.

    However, there is a distinction in how local law enforcement have been working with the investigators. The university police and city police have largely been cooperative and have already begun increasing the training for their staff in accordance with the findings and recommendations. The County attorney is fighting on his own here.

  5. Melissa T

    February 17, 2014 at 7:10 pm


  6. Kay_Sue

    February 17, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    This story disgusts me. Every time I read a quote from the county attorney, all I hear in my head is:

  7. ShanLea

    February 17, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    This, and so many other headlines I’ve seen lately, make me ashamed to admit I am from Montana. Many of the unprosecuted assaults were allegedly perpetrated by student athletes at the University of Montana, which makes it doubly sickening in my eyes. I spend a lot of time daydreaming about the day I can afford to say “fuck it, Montana, I’m out!”

  8. Amanda

    February 17, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Oh HELL NO!

  9. Sarah

    February 17, 2014 at 11:38 pm

  10. Nic

    February 18, 2014 at 3:53 am

    anyone is interested in signing a petition to Congress to include
    gender as a protected category under federal hates crime laws, so that
    rape/sexual assault can prosecuted on the federal level, you can sign
    and/or share it here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/include-rapesexual-assault

  11. MellyG

    February 18, 2014 at 11:56 am

    I love that the local DA is trying to deny it, as if there’s a reason for the US DOJ to attack their little town! And boys will be boys? Really?

  12. jendra_berri

    February 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Boys will be boys? As in he thinks boys are sexual predators and what can you do about it, oh well? If the prosector was male (I’m personally guessing this is true), then he was once a boy. He has insight into what boys want and think. Does he really think it’s normal for adolescent boys to desire children and molest them? What could he be basing this on except for personal experience? Because society does not at all hold the view that anyone should sexually desire kids and act on it.
    I find that comment chilling to the bone.

  13. Moony

    February 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    As horrible as this is, what else can we expect?

    Most people nowadays will tell their sons: “NO Tommy! You can’t have that! Barbie’s are for girls!”, “NO Mason! We’re not buying that! Pink is for girls!”, “NO Alexander! You can’t join ballet! That’s for your sister, not for you!”

    We teach our sons that they cannot have anything to do with femininity. Whether it be long hair, a sweet disposition, an attraction to dresses or a love of baby dolls – anything that has been branded by society as even the slightest bit effeminate is simply NOT OK FOR BOYS. And yet… masculinity is openly encouraged when it comes to little girls! So what does this tell boys?

    It tells them that femininity is weak, submissive, sub-par and entirely undesirable overall (because they certainly aren’t going to think that they weren’t allowed to partake in femininity because it was too good for them!). So, naturally, when these boys grow up they begin to devalue women – the pinnacles of femininity. And, as a result, you get terrible occurrences such as this.

    The only way to stop these atrocities is to teach boys – and men by default – to respect femininity, thereby allowing them to view it on the same level playing field as masculinity. And the only way to get them to respect it is to permit them to partake in it.

    But… that’s not going to happen any time soon. Because people want their sons to be rough-housing, gun-obsessed, violent little demons, all in sake of proving their masculinity. And so, these terrible things will continue to happen to unsuspecting women, and it’s all society’s fault… 🙁

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