Bobby Hauck’s return to Missoula stirred up opposition, with women’s advocates pointing at the culture of Griz football as contributing to sexual assault on campus and in the city. Hauck himself said he’s been “saddened to see discussion of my potential return associated with the challenges this university has experienced on that issue” at his introductory press conference last Friday. Those “challenges” presumably refer to the federal inquiry into the handling of sexual assault cases by Missoula County and the University of Montana.
While his hiring has brought up the past, Hauck will return to the Missoula of 2017, not the Missoula of 2009. A number of things are different, whether due to changes instituted in response to the U.S. Department of Justice investigation, or the emerging shift in the national conversation about sexual assault. Here’s what’s changed in the law and in Missoula institutions over the last eight years.
A previous handicap to prosecuting sexual assault cases was the discrepancy between the language in Montana law and the reality of assault. Last spring, state Sen. Diane Sands sponsored SB 29, one of several bills changing the laws regarding prosecution of sexual assault. SB 29 removed language that narrowly defined sexual assault in terms of “force” and created the crime of aggravated sexual intercourse without consent for cases in which force is used. Montana law now specifies that absence of consent by word or deed is sufficient absence of consent.
The law went into effect Oct. 1.
The County Attorney’s office, under the supervision of Attorney General Tim Fox, met all the terms of its agreement with the Department of Justice last year. The county’s Special Victims Unit expanded and produced a handbook on best practices for handling sexual assault cases. The office also implemented a secondary trauma program for prosecutors and wrote a handbook on best practices for interacting with victims. The average processing time for sexual assault cases was slashed from 35 days to less than a day. The County Attorney’s secondary trauma program for prosecutors and law enforcement officers working sexual assault cases has received national recognition.
Both the Missoula Police Department and the university police also fulfilled agreements with the DOJ that, in part, required specialized sexual assault response training.
Continuing a program first implemented in 2012, the university requires all incoming students to watch videos about sexual assault awareness and then take a quiz on the subject, a training known as PETSA (Personal Empowerment Through Self Awareness). Also required is an in-person bystander training at the university’s Student Advocacy Resource Center. The Campus SAVE Act, passed in 2013, now mandates that all federally funded institutions provide sexual violence prevention education.
“Athletes take the same prevention training as every other student as part of their NCAA Student Athlete Seminary,” university Student Advocacy Resource Center Director Drew Colling writes in an email to the Independent.
The NCAA, partly in response to a sexual assault by Baylor University athletes, announced in August that it would require all athletes and athletic staff at member schools, including UM, to participate in annual sexual violence prevention education.
Make Your Move Missoula, the outreach arm of the county’s Relationship Violence Services, is the organization responsible for the bystander intervention campaign, launched in 2012. That effort, which includes the placement of eye-catching posters in public and campus bathrooms, was replicated around the country and received positive national media attention, says Prevention Program Coordinator Kelly McGuire. The newest Make Your Move campaign focuses on affirmative consent, and includes slightly racy radio ads in which couples negotiate intimate acts using the word “consent” in place of more explicit terms.
McGuire presents to middle school and high school-age students, but said that social-norms campaigns are aimed at adults, who aren’t the captive audience that students are. Adults are also more likely to respond to examples of positive, proactive behaviors than portrayals of negative ones.
“A lot of times people think rape prevention has to be super serious, and obviously rape is a really serious topic, but prevention of rape is more effective when it’s not super serious,” McGuire says. “I think the more we focus on the positive and teaching people concrete and healthy skills, the more likely we are to prevent rape.”
McGuire has been with the county since 2010. “When I started, we didn’t have a prevention program at all,” she says. “We’ve come a really long way in terms of sexual violence prevention in Missoula.” She credits the DOJ investigation with helping spur funding for the program.