The U.S. Justice Department has launched its own investigation in Missoula, Mont., citing more than 80 reported rapes there in only three years. The wide-reaching probe is expected to include a review of the handling of sexual assault and harassment reports at the University of Montana at Missoula, where at least 11 student-related assault cases have surfaced in recent months. The Justice Department said its investigation will focus on complaints that local law enforcement failed to properly investigate and prosecute sexual assaults on women in Missoula because of gender discrimination.
Two members of the U of M Grizzlies football team - Big Sky Conference champions - have been accused of rape, leading to the recent dismissal of the football coach and the school's athletic director.
"The allegations that the University of Montana, the local police department and the county attorney's office failed to adequately address sexual assaults are very disturbing," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The local economy of Missoula - a western Montana city of 86,000 - depends heavily on the state's flagship research institution.