County attorney told to rebuild public trust


MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula County commissioners are telling County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg he needs to rebuild the public's trust in his office after a Department of Justice report said its investigators found an "institutionalized indifference to crimes of sexual violence" in the office. The DOJ report was released on Feb. 14, just days after the county filed a lawsuit challenging the agency's authority to investigate how the county attorney's office handles the prosecution of sexual assault cases. Van Valkenburg said the timing of the DOJ report's release was "clearly retaliatory" and that the DOJ "put out a lot of bad information to the public." Commissioner Jean Curtiss told Van Valkenburg on Wednesday to put the lawsuit on the back burner and address the DOJ allegations.