Bill proposed to address sex trafficking

By ZACHARY COE/Montana State News

A bill to prevent sex trafficking in Montana was presented to the state House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 197 is proposed to prevent girls from being abducted from public institutions and sold into sex trafficking. It would require the Office of Public Instruction in collaboration with law enforcement and Montana Department of Health and Human Services, to support schools educating students on the dangers of sex trafficking a district policy.

The bill will be funded through the Department of Justice, as Health Education. Specialists will need to be brought into to educate public schools, and will have a net expenditure of around $90,000 per year with zero net revenue received. The price will fluctuate each year while considering inflation, but should level out around the desired price range for the foreseeable future. Continue reading “Bill proposed to address sex trafficking”

Bill defines ‘consent’ in sex assault cases

By TIM STOVER/Montana State News

The Montana Legislature is considering  bills to clarify what the definition of force is in sexual assault cases as well as allowing minor victims of sexual assault crimes an increased time period to pursue charges.

Hannah Stark, direct services specialist at Montana State University’s Voice Center said the legislation is a “phenomenal move.” Stark said humans have a third instinct that goes along with fight or flight in times of crisis.

Senate Bill 29 addresses that instinct, freezing. Instead of fighting back, Senate Bill 29 will change the law to address situations in which victims of rape freeze or can’t fight back.

Sen. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, sponsored both of the bills. Currently, the bills have past the third Senate vote and are on track to pass in both the Montana House and Senate Votes. Continue reading “Bill defines ‘consent’ in sex assault cases”

Courts expanded to deal with child abuse cases

By JARED MILLER/Montana State News

The Montana State Legislature is considering a new bill that addresses the increased number of child neglect and abuse cases by appointing more judges in four Montana counties to take them.

The number of child abuse cases in Montana has risen by 155 percent from 2009 to 2015, with case numbers increasing by 244 percent in Great Falls and nearly tripling in Missoula, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

Currently, Montana has 46 district judges available to handle civil cases such as child neglect and abuse, according to the Independent Record, approximately 20 judges short of what the state needs, according to a judicial caseload study. Continue reading “Courts expanded to deal with child abuse cases”

Briggs captured; headed back to Bozeman

By SCOTT PHELAN/Montana State News

According to a Montana State University alert message, the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force has arrested Kevin Briggs in Portland, Ore.

Briggs was wanted for escaping from the Bozeman Police Department on Feb. 1. He was originally arrested on charges of aggravated assault, attempted sexual intercourse without consent, and assault on a police officer.

According to the clerk of Multnomah County Courthouse Briggs waived extradition during his initial arraignment hearing.

The clerk declined to release any information on when or how Briggs would be transported back to Bozeman. Continue reading “Briggs captured; headed back to Bozeman”

Bill would legalize guns on campus

By PATRICK HILL/Montana State News

Montana has had a long history of gun culture, going back to the days of the Wild West and even further.  However that culture has always been kept in check by Montana’s Board of Regents and college campuses. The Board of Regents has long held that only certified law enforcement officials be able to carry weapons while on campus grounds.

If state Rep. Cary Smith gets his way, though, that will change. The introduction of House Bill 240 will, among other things, allow for the carrying of concealed weapons on Montana campuses, provided that the carrier has a valid carry permit. The legislation has already passed the House on a 58-31 vote.

Proponents of the bill say that it would allow for greater protection of students and faculty on campuses and that it would further reaffirm the 2008 ruling of D.C. vs. Hellar stating that it was in fact a constitutional right for citizens to carry a concealed weapon.

Smith said, “Mass murders only seem to stop when a good guy shows up with a gun.” Continue reading “Bill would legalize guns on campus”

Panel finds booze at root of sex assault issue

 By KAYLEE WALDEN/Montana State News

With a stern look in his eye and a harsh edge to his voice at the mention of the word “rape,” Matt Caires, dean of students at Montana State University, makes it clear that it is not an issue that the administration at MSU takes lightly.

Last year, Missoula was scandalously dubbed the “Rape Capital” of the nation after a string of sexual assaults involving college students, including University of Montana intercollegiate athletes, that garnered national publicity.

In hopes of preventing similar incidents, MSU took a hard look at their policies. Caires, under the direction of MSU President Waded Crusado, didn’t hesitate to outline a set prevention techniques for MSU.

He’s starting with what he calls “the root of the problem:” alcohol. Continue reading “Panel finds booze at root of sex assault issue”

Student struck twice by car burglaries

By CASSIDY GEOGHEGAN/Montana State News

Montana State University student Kimmie Geer fell victim to car break-ins twice last week.  The first break in occurred when her vehicle was parked at her friend’s house.

“When I was leaving the next morning,” Geer said, “I found my driver’s door open as well as my glove box and center console.  My glove box and console were emptied, but nothing else was stolen from the car which leads me to believe the person breaking in was interrupted.  I called the police to report the stolen items and the break-in.”

Only four days later, her car was broken into again. Continue reading “Student struck twice by car burglaries”

City cops targeted in excessive force lawsuit

By KEVIN KNAPEK/Montana State News

Bozeman police officers may soon be heading back to court to face an excessive force lawsuit.

In 2007, officers were called for a welfare check. When Sgt. Greg Megargel and Officer Marek Ziegler arrived at Soheil J. Verdi’s home, Verdi answered the door naked, intoxicated and “stumbling around,” according to the lawsuit.

Officers then claim Verdi attacked them. Ziegler decided to taze Verdi, which caused him to fall face down hitting his head and causing injuries to his skull. According to his attorneys Thomas D. Shea and Ryan K. Jackson, Verdi has had three brain surgeries to remove excess blood on his brain. Continue reading “City cops targeted in excessive force lawsuit”

Bill would close sex offender loophole

By BEN HAVENS/Montana State News

A loophole in Montana’s sex offender laws allows those convicted of sex crimes to move from elsewhere into the state without providing law enforcement officials with a DNA sample. The law requires those who are convicted within the state to do so.

State Attorney General Tim Fox has requested Senate Bill 213, which would close the loophole. Forty-seven other states require DNA samples from sex offenders moving into those states. Only Colorado, Idaho, Wisconsin and Montana have this loophole.

DNA samples are used when looking for suspects in crimes. The use of DNA as evidence became popular in the Tommie Lee Andrews case, where Tommy became the first person to be convicted using DNA as evidence in 1987.  Continue reading “Bill would close sex offender loophole”

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