University of Montana President Royce Engstrom admits the university could do a better job communicating with Missoula police, but he stands by the way university officials handled the most recent reports of sexual assault on campus, which he says were dealt with on the day they were reported.
"The university addressed those events in a timely manner. As always our concern is for the safety of our students, and we do as much as we can to remove the perpetrators from our learning environment," said Engstrom.
The announcement comes on the heels of an article in the university newspaper questioning what administrators knew about the alleged assaults and when they knew it. The article claims university officials waited a week before reporting to the Missoula Police Department the name of a student accused of sexually assaulting two female students.
Engstrom challenged the accusation in a news conference Friday by claiming there had been only one reported sexual assault since February 10, and that it wasn't reported until February 17.
Engstrom says that a report had been made February 10 by a student who claimed she was provided illegal drugs and alcohol by another student on campus. Campus police logs from that day show a call was made to campus police that a woman was forced into a vehicle in the Lommasson Center parking lot and given alcohol.
Engstrom says the issue was addressed on February 14, the next business day, when the dean of students unsuccessfully attempted to meet with the alleged perpetrator.
"We took action in a timely manner in the first event in a manner appropriate to the apparent severity of that event," said Engstrom.
It wasn?t until a week later, on February 17, that Engstrom says another student came forward to report she?d been raped. Engstrom says an alert email was sent shortly after the report to students and Missoula police notifying them that an alleged rape had occurred on campus.
The email noted two alleged sexual assaults, or attempted sexual assaults that had occurred the week before, but Engstrom says they were erring on the side of caution with the email, and that only one assault had actually been reported.
"We took timely action on the second event, proportionate to the severity of that event,? said Engstrom. ?The communications that have come out recently left, I think, the impression that we sat around before we did anything, and that absolutely is not the case."
Engstrom says the rape investigation is still ongoing, but that it appears the alleged perpetrator has fled the country.