By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN
Follow on Twitter: @CNNEmma
Missoula, Montana (CNN) –– Geoffrey Donovan remembers when the news first broke that his university, the University of Montana, was under investigation by federal authorities:
[1:06] "It's a hot topic. I mean everyone was talking about it. I know in my class it wasn't just girls who had some stuff to say. It's what's on the front page, you know?"
The investigation was about how officials from local law enforcement, and at the university, handle rape cases on and off campus. Making the announcement in May, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice cited complaints that rape cases weren't getting proper attention.
Six months on, with still no resolution, residents worry about how they'll be perceived outside their community. But the U.S. Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, says his office has heard a myriad of similar problems across the country:
[2:07] "We find cases where the students aren't taken seriously because they use alcohol before or after the assault."
Even as the investigation continues, the university has made changes. But not everyone in town cooperated with federal investigators. Fred VanValkenburg is the long-serving county attorney. He's refused to turn over any documents and says he doesn't think investigators have the authority. And, he defends his record prosecuting rapes.
VanValkenburg says his office does a good job handling rape cases. But he says these cases can pose challenges for prosecutors. He also says alcohol can indeed be a factor:
[3:18] "If a woman get's drunk and consents to some intercourse or some sexual act that she really wishes she hadn't done, you know, it doesn't become a crime because she was drunk and maybe she should have used better judgment. And you know, that's where the big difference lies because people do tend to agree to do things when they are drunk that they wouldn't when they are sober."
No matter the outcome of these investigations, local law enforcement and university authorities around the country should pay attention.
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