Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town

Version: Unabridged
Author: Jon Krakauer
Narrator: Scott Brick , Mozhan Marno
Genres: Non-Fiction, True Crime, Lectures
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Published In: April 2015
# of Units: 10 CDs
Length: 12 hours
Ratings:
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Overview

From bestselling author Jon Krakauer, a stark, powerful, meticulously reported narrative about a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana --- stories that illuminate the human drama behind the national plague of campus rape
Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, with a highly regarded state university, bucolic surroundings, a lively social scene, and an excellent football team -- the Grizzlies -- with a rabid fan base.
The Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012. Few of these assaults were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.
A DOJ report released in December of 2014 estimates 110,000 women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four are raped each year. Krakauer's devastating narrative of what happened in Missoula makes clear why rape is so prevalent on American campuses, and why rape victims are so reluctant to report assault.
Acquaintance rape is a crime like no other. Unlike burglary or embezzlement or any other felony, the victim often comes under more suspicion than the alleged perpetrator. This is especially true if the victim is sexually active; if she had been drinking prior to the assault -- and if the man she accuses plays on a popular sports team. The vanishingly small but highly publicized incidents of false accusations are often used to dismiss her claims in the press. If the case goes to trial, the woman's entire personal life becomes fair game for defense attorneys.
This brutal reality goes a long way towards explaining why acquaintance rape is the most underreported crime in America. In addition to physical trauma, its victims often suffer devastating psychological damage that leads to feelings of shame, emotional paralysis and stigmatization. PTSD rates for rape victims are estimated to be 50%, higher than soldiers returning from war.
In "Missoula," Krakauer chronicles the searing experiences of several women in Missoula -- the nights when they were raped; their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the way they were treated by the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys; the public vilification and private anguish; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them.
Some of them went to the police. Some declined to go to the police, or to press charges, but sought redress from the university, which has its own, non-criminal judicial process when a student is accused of rape. In two cases the police agreed to press charges and the district attorney agreed to prosecute. One case led to a conviction; one to an acquittal. Those women courageous enough to press charges or to speak publicly about their experiences were attacked in the media, on Grizzly football fan sites, and/or to their faces. The university expelled three of the accused rapists, but one was reinstated by state officials in a secret proceeding. One district attorney testified for an alleged rapist at his university hearing. She later left the prosecutor's office and successfully defended the Grizzlies' star quarterback in his rape trial. The horror of being raped, in each woman's case, was magnified by the mechanics of the justice system and the reaction of the community.
Krakauer's dispassionate, carefully documented account of what these women endured cuts through the abstract ideological debate about campus rape. College-age women are not raped because they are promiscuous, or drunk, or send mixed signals, or feel guilty about casual sex, or seek attention. They are the victims of a terrible crime and deserving of compassion from society and fairness from a justice system that is clearly broken.

Author Details

Author Details

Krakauer, Jon

Jon Krakauer is the author of Eiger Dreams, Into the Wild and Into Thin Air and is editor of the Modern Library Exploration series.

Born in 1954, he grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, where his father introduced him to mountaineering as an 8-year-old. After graduating from Hampshire College in 1976, Krakauer divided his time between Colorado, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest, earning his living primarily as a carpenter and commercial salmon fisherman, spending most of his free moments in the mountains. In 1977 he traveled alone to the remote Stikine Icecap in Southeast Alaska, went three weeks without encountering another person, and climbed a new route on a graceful, intimidating peak called the Devil's Thumb. In 1992 he climbed the West Face of Cerro Torre in the Patagonian Andes (a mile-high spike of granite sheathed in a carapace of frozen rime, Cerro Torre was once considered the most difficult mountain on earth.)

In May 1996 Krakauer reached the top of Mt. Everest, but during the descent a storm engulfed the peak, taking the lives of four of the five teammates who climbed to the summit with him. An analysis of the calamity that he wrote for Outside magazine received a National Magazine Award. The unsparingly honest book he subsequently wrote about Everest, Into Thin Air, became a #1 New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 24 languages. It was also honored as the "Book of the Year" by Time magazine, one of the "Best Books of the Year" by the New York Times Book Review, a finalist for a 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award, and one of three finalists for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in General Non-Fiction.

For the past two decades Krakauer's writing has been published in the likes of Outside, GEO, Architectural Digest, Rolling Stone, Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and National Geographic. An article he wrote for Smithsonian about vulcanology received the 1997 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism from the American Geophysical Union. His 1996 book, Into The Wild--about an idealistic young man named Chris McCandless who perished in the Alaskan bush--spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list. This followed the publication of two books by Krakauer in 1990: Eiger Dreams, a collection of his mountaineering essays, and Iceland: Land of the Sagas, a book of his photographs.

In 1998 Krakauer established the Everest '96 Memorial Fund at the Boulder Community Foundation, endowing it with royalties from Into Thin Air. Created as a tribute to his companions lost on Everest, the fund provides humanitarian aid to the indigenous peoples of the Himalaya and supports organizations working to preserve the natural environment throughout the world. Krakauer also serves on the boards of the American Himalayan Foundation and the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation.

In 1999 Krakauer received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters--a prestigious award intended "to honor writers of exceptional accomplishment." According to the Academy's citation, "Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer. His account of an ascent of Mount Everest has led to a general reevaluation of climbing and of the commercialization of what was once a romantic, solitary sport; while his account of the life and death of Christopher McCandless, who died of starvation after challenging the Alaskan wilderness, delves even more deeply and disturbingly into the fascination of nature and the devastating effects of its lure on a young and curious mind."

Krakauer's latest book, which he has spent the last four years researching and writing, is Under The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, published by Doubleday in July 2003. As a child in Oregon, many of the author's playmates, teachers, and athletic coaches were Latter-day Saints. Although he envied the unfluctuating certainty of the faith professed so enthusiastically by these Mormon friends and acquaintances, he was often baffled by it, and has sought to comprehend the formidable power of such belief ever since. The upshot of this lifelong quest is Under The Banner of Heaven, in which Krakauer examines the nature of religious passion through the lens of Mormon Fundamentalism.