Montana Politics Tim Fox

The Attorney General’s Office Pleas Down to No Jail Time For A Man Facing Four Sexual Assault Charges

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 sentenceall 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.

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  • Enterprising reporters understand that if a victim of an alleged sexual assault doesn’t cooperate with prosecutors or doesn’t want the case to proceed, there’s little that can be done in court. This happens much more often than most people realize.

    • Those same enterprising reporters might note that at least two of the women assaulted came forward and pressed charges after the initial rape charge was filed. It seems like competent work from the AG’s office would have led to real charges here.

      Four sexual assaults, all using the same pattern of behavior. And the AG’s office is proposing to let this guy walk.

      If you want an explanation for why sexual assault survivors don’t want to come forward, cases like this certainly offer a good reason for them not to.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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