UM to Hold Meeting on Sex Assault Investigations

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – Top University of Montana officials have arranged a public meeting to discuss the school’s investigation into several reports of sexual assault occurring both on and off campus.

University vice president Jim Foley said Tuesday night’s community forum will feature President Royce Engstron, who will make a statement and then take questions from the audience.

In December, the university asked former Montana Supreme Court Justice Diane Barz to investigate sexual assault reports after allegations surfaced that two students were drugged and gang-raped. Barz’s preliminary report suggested the Missoula campus has some flaws in the way sexual assaults are reported and investigated.

“This will be a community forum on the investigation,” Foley told the Missoulian in a story published Monday. “We won’t get into specific details or names involved, but we might be able to clarify some things.

“The president will answer questions and will have members of the cabinet available to answer questions and do follow-up as needed,” Foley added.

Barz is not expected to be at the meeting since her investigation is not yet complete.

In late December, the former justice issued a preliminary report that found evidence of non-consensual sex that is going unreported in the university system and that UM appears to have a gap in reporting sexual assaults.

She also cited evidence “that there has been a sexual assault that has not been appropriately reported and investigated.”

Since UM hired Barz, several female students and former students have come forward to report alleged rapes that were not part of the original scope of the investigation. Some of the allegations involve UM football players, while others involve non-athletes.

Ten days ago, UM football player Beau Donaldson was arrested and charged with sexual intercourse without consent for an incident that allegedly occurred in September 2010. UM and Missoula police have refused to say whether that arrest was prompted by the university’s investigation. Donaldson appeared in court last week and has been suspended from the football team.

Barz’s team of investigators has interviewed “students, coaches, student-athletes, administrators and members of the public” about reports from both on and off campus.