Fred Van Valkenburg and a woman who loves her job, by Kelsey Wardwell of the Missoulian.
And like that, the Gordian Knot is untangled: Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg has announced a tripartite agreement with the Department of Justice and State Attorney General Tim Fox to improve the way his office prosecutes sexual assaults. Van Valkenburg will drop his lawsuit, and the DOJ will stop investigating him and releasing statements about it while he is on vacation. Now we just shake hands, smile for the cameras and put this unpleasantness behind us. Quote:
“(The USDOJ) never once reached out—never once in two years—reached out to work cooperatively with me in this matter,” Van Valkenburg said. “The letter that (Acting U.S. Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels) issued on Feb. 14 was the single most unprofessional thing I have seen in my practice of law in 41 years…Why did the United States Department of Justice do what they did here?…People working for the United States government think there is no price to things.”
L’chaim, everybody! Samuels succeeded Van Valkenburg at the podium and remarked, on behalf of said government, that “had we had to litigate this, I am confident that we would have prevailed.”
Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg
Fred Van Valkenburg is back from vacation today, and I do not envy him his voice mailbox. Probably he checked it while he was away. We know he read the paper, because he sent attorney Jim Ghidella an angry email after Ghidella wrote a letter to the editor critical of Van Valkenburg’s fight against the US Department of Justice. For those of you who have not followed this story: in 2012, the DOJ announced that it was investigating the University of Montana, Missoula police, and the county attorney’s office for improper handling of sexual assault cases. The police and UM cooperated, and their investigations are now over. Van Valkenburg, on the other hand, has insisted all along that Justice has no jurisdiction over his office, and recently got $50,000 from the county commission to pursue a declaratory judgment against them. That lawsuit was filed earlier this week—just in time for us to learn about the agreement that Montana’s state attorney general made with the DOJ in 2012 to cooperate with investigators.