"So, yeah, it's just the elevation," my new friend continues to yell into my ear. "The girls here drink too much, and the elevation fucks with their heads. So then they say they got roofied." He furrows his bushy eyebrows and raises his beer in the direction of the dance floor, which is teeming with cloudy-eyed kids gyrating to Taio Cruz. "People think we're the 'rape capital' of America now, but we're not. Missoula is just like any other college town."
Maybe. Maybe not.
On May 1st, the Federal Department of Justice launched an investigation into possible gender bias in the handling of sexual assault allegations by the Missoula Police Department, the County Attorney's Office, and the University of Montana. Officials say there have been at least 80 reported rapes in Missoula over the last three years, with 11 of the sexual assaults reported over the last 18 months involving UM students, including an alleged gang-rape by members of the Grizzlies' lucrative Division I football team.
When I heard that Nick, my friend's younger brother, was planning a trip back to Missoula, I asked him to take me along because I, too, was curious: Why Missoula?
"I think a lot of the sexual assaults are pretty fucking legit except for there are a lot of really slutty girls here who want to get with a lot of people and then they want to claim rape," Rachel, a UM senior and one of Nick's friends, tells me while smoking a bowl at her kitchen table and shuffling a deck of cards.
"We're in college," Tori says. "People do stupid stuff. If girls keep lying, everyone's going to think Missoula is the town that "cried rape." She offers to connect me with her Griz friends, but sends me an apologetic text the next day saying that the coach forbade the players to talk to the media. "They never want to talk about the rape charges," she had told me earlier. "We have a rule: Don't bring it up unless they bring it up with you."
"The guys are rapists, but the girls want to get fucked," she says, over and over again.
I try to tell her that statistics say –
"I don't give a fuck about your statistics," she says, pounding the table for emphasis. "Things are different in Missoula. I'm not saying they're not rapists. But the girls help it along."
But things are not different in Missoula.
edited op on request to prevent any risk of copyright issues.