Sexual Assault Prosecutions
This is an exciting time for Missoula and Montana because we are breaking ground on great and permanent changes in the area of sexual assault prosecutions. We are committed to being a positive example and model for other communities facing similar challenges and to being the very best sexual assault prosecution team in the State of Montana. To do that, we are examining past practices, studying the nation’s best practices and engaging in specialized training.
Our Special Victims’ Unit is made up of 4 full time prosecutors who handle only sexual assault, family violence and child abuse and exploitation cases. Prosecutors in this elite team have specialized training and smaller caseloads so that they can devote the time necessary to successfully prosecute challenging cases. The SVU meets regularly with detectives who are investigating sexual assault cases and, to enhance communication with law enforcement, criminal prosecutors have opened up daily meetings with law enforcement from all agencies.
Additionally, we have hired a Victim Witness Coordinator, who works with victims, advocates, law enforcement, to make sure that victims are treated with dignity and improve delivery of services to victims of crime. We’ve also given the Crime Victim Advocate Office access to our electronic files and tracking to improve inter-agency case management and information sharing with victims.
County Attorney Pabst has appointed both a Training Coordinator to ensure that all attorneys receive quality educational opportunities in their respective specialties and Law Enforcement Training Liaison, to make sure that our law enforcement partners are up to date on the laws and best practices for investigating sexual assault. Pabst dedicated a new ‘softer’ conference room as a Victim Trial Preparation area, designated for victim interviews to make trial preparation of defense interviews less intimidating.
The Missoula County Attorney’s Office has developed the first edition of a sexual assault policy and procedure manual with over 300 pages of best practices for prosecuting sexual assault cases in Montana, which has been made available to all prosecutors in the State of Montana.