KRTV is reporting that outrage is mounting in Great Falls after Attorney General Tim Fox’s office chose to offer a plea bargain that will result in a ten-year sentence, all time suspended, to a man who committed four sexual assaults.
As the Great Falls Tribune notes, the defendant, Bradley Goodell, admitted in his plea agreement that he assaulted three different women “while they were intoxicated and could not appreciate or control their conduct.”
When we talk about the systemic and cultural factors that permit rape culture to flourish in Montana, we can’t ignore the hurdles to prosecution that empower rapists and make it so challenging for survivors to pursue charges. It’s hard to understand how the Attorney General’s office could sign off on a plea deal that will not only make future prosecutions more difficult but discourage those who’ve been assaulted from coming forward.
Attorney General Fox has done a lot to get his name in the press and worked to amend sexual assault laws in the 2017 legislative session, but he needs to be accountable for his office’s failure to pursue justice in this case.
The failure of the Attorney General’s office to secure just punishment in this case may also be linked to how ideology seems to have trumped experience at the Attorney General’s office under Fox. A careful reading of the stories about the Goodell case shows that the plea deal was undertaken by a different attorney than Assistant AG Joel Thompson, who began the work on the case for the state as a long-serving prosecutor of these kinds of crimes.
An enterprising reporter might just want to, while researching the AG’s decision to let a rapist go free, ask why the experienced, highly regarded Thompson was no longer on the case or in the AG’s office.