Montana State Knew Briggs had Rape Conviction

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – Montana State University is reviewing its process for admitting students with felony convictions after a former student was charged with trying to rape his ex-girlfriend.

Kevin Briggs, 28, of Bozeman escaped the police station shortly after his Feb. 1 arrest. He was charged on Feb. 3 with attempted sexual intercourse without consent, aggravated assault, escape and assault on a peace officer. He has a $500,000 warrant for his arrest.

Briggs was a senior studying chemical engineering at MSU at the time of his arrest. School officials say he is no longer a student.

MSU spokesman Tracy Ellig said the university was aware of Briggs’ conviction for raping his 14-year-old former girlfriend in Helena in early 2003.

The Campus Safety and Welfare Review Committee reviews each application from a potential student with a felony conviction and makes a recommendation to the dean of students. The committee considers factors such as the severity of the crime, what the applicant has done since the conviction, recommendations from parole officers, academic record and potential to succeed at Montana State, Ellig said.

Another factor university officials weigh is how the justice system evaluates an offender, Ellig said. In this case, Briggs was labeled a Level I offender, one considered the least likely to re-offend.

Briggs is one of nine students and staff members on MSU’s sexual or violent offenders list, which is posted on the university’s website.

Often, when convicted sexual or violent offenders are admitted to MSU, they are not allowed to live on campus, Ellig said.

Dean of Students Matt Caires and Robert Marley, vice president of student success, have asked the safety committee to scrutinize the way it weighs the rights of individuals against the safety of the community.

“From everything we now know about Kevin, he’s not an individual we’d want as a student,” Caires told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Briggs remains at large. Police in Missoula said he made contact with an acquaintance there on Feb. 1. Two robberies took place in Missoula on Thursday morning that led to the lockdown of the University of Montana and other schools in the city, but police said they found “nothing to suggest” Briggs was involved.

After his 2003 rape conviction, Briggs was an inmate with the Department of Corrections assigned to the Billings Intensive Supervision Program. In August 2004, his grandmother reported Briggs left the house in the middle of the night and hadn’t returned. He was arrested in October 2005 in Humboldt County in California.

Briggs is 5 feet, 5 inches tall with a medium build. He has blue eyes and pierced ears