Missoula: Rape and the justice system in a college town | WVIA

Missoula: Rape and the justice system in a college town

Last Updated by MPR News, Staff on


Non-fiction writer Jon Krakauer is well known for his best-selling books "Into Thin Air" and "Into the Wild." But his most recent book took him, and his readers, in a much different direction — out to Missoula, Montana, where the University of Montana is located in a city of about 70,000 people.

There he spent several years researching a book about rape. It's titled, "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town."

Krakauer said Missoula was the perfect place to write about, because it has fewer rapes per capita than the norm, and is a very typical American college town, not an outlier.

When he started research for the book, Krakauer said he had no idea that rape was so prevalent, or could cause such deep and intractable pain. And he said his ignorance was inexcusable and made him ashamed.

Rape and war are among the most common causes of post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, Krakauer learned. He said we are not having "a rape epidemic, rape is this problem that's existed always."

"As far as prosecuting rape," Krakauer said, "our criminal justice system, as brilliant as it is in many ways, is utterly broken. It simply does not work and no one knows how to fix it. I don't know how to fix it."

He added, "In a criminal trial, the defendant has all the advantages, all the protections. The victim has none. And then in a rape trial, unlike any other criminal trial I know about, it is the victim who is put on trial. It is the victim who has to defend herself. Rape is the only crime in which if you're drunk, it exonerates the accused, not the victim. It is so twisted. It is so hard to get justice."

Jon Krakauer visited Concordia College in Moorhead on Nov. 14, 2018, to talk about his newest book. Concordia College senior Karissa Chouinard interviewed him in front of a large audience at the college. Jon Krakauer starts out with a reading from his book.

To listen to their conversation, click the audio player above.
listenlive_fulllength.jpg cove_spacer.png
Now Playing on WVIA-FM



Tribune Publishing CEOs Are Out After A Series Of Controversies

Justin Dearborn, Tribune Publishing's chairman and CEO, and Ross Levinsohn, CEO of the company's interactive...

Pelosi Says Trump Administration Leaked Plans To Fly Commercially To War Zone

The speaker's office says a congressional delegation was prepared to fly commercial to Afghanistan after Trump...

Defying Trump Administration, Calif. Offers Federal Workers Unemployment Benefits

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the Department of Labor's guidance that states not allow furloughed workers to...

Former Chicago Cop Jason Van Dyke To Be Sentenced For Laquan McDonald Murder

The 2014 shooting was captured on an infamous video that showed McDonald, who was carrying a knife with a three-inch...

Attempts To Make Shutdown 'Painless' May Stretch Limits Of Federal Law

The Trump administration is trying to minimize the impact of the government shutdown by bringing furloughed workers...

healthybites_sidebar2.png reserve3.png artscene_header.png