Another step in the City of Missoula's compliance with the Department of Justice took place with very little community participation on Tuesday.

The city, along with the police department and the University of Montana have a two-year agreement with the Department of Justice, mandating improvements in the way sexual assaults are investigated.

One step in the process took place on Tuesday, with a community forum designed to allow anyone with questions regarding gaps in the way the city and law enforcement agencies are addressing sexual assault cases. Mayor John Engen, Missoula Police Captain Mike Colyer, and director of the audit, Janet Stevens Donahue were there to answer questions.

The only attendees at the forum presented at the Missoula City Council chambers were primarily members of the media, and one victim's advocate, Chantelle Gaynor.

photo by Peter Christian

"It's a process we've taken from Praxsis International, a non-profit organization that has developed a program that reviews sexual assault processes as well as dometic violence processes," Donahue said. "We're going to use this process to take a holistic look at all the agencies and workers and organizations that take part in the sexual assault investigation process."

Donahue said Missoula is not the only city under the microscope by the Department of Justice.

"The Department of Justice is looking at 53 other university towns dealing with the same issue," she said. "In that respect, we are not unique at all. But we are unique in that we have taken a proactive approach, not looking for faults, but looking for better ways to coordinate and make sure that victims of sexual assault are served in the way they need to be."

Donahue has served Missoula as a Justice of the Peace, a county commissioner, and most recently at Chief Administrative Officer for the city. She is volunteering her time to head the sexual assault audit.

 

Janet Stevens Donahue