Summary: Chapter 9

Kevin Barrett, a former police officer and Kerry Barrett’s father, calls Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir and complains of the way his daughter’s case has been handled. He does not believe Missoula police are following the correct protocol. According to their training, they are supposed to start every investigation with the assumption that rape victims are telling the truth, but police in Missoula seem to assume victims are exaggerating. Chief Muir agrees to meet with Kaitlyn Kelly and Kerry Barrett. He listens attentively to their concerns, but takes no action. After the meeting, Chief Muir sends the girls an opinionated article that claims fifty percent of rape allegations are false.

Krakauer criticizes the notion that American society suffers from an outbreak of malicious rape allegations by lying women. He gives the example of Brian Banks, a man who was falsely accused and imprisoned for rape. After serving his term and having his NFL prospects destroyed, Brian Banks was exonerated when his accuser admitted to making the story up. False accusations do happen, as Brian Banks’ case shows, but false allegation is very rare. Rigorous academic studies show that only two to ten percent of allegations are false, and the notion of widespread false accusations is inaccurate. Rape is, however, the most underreported and under-prosecuted serious crime in America. Krakauer concludes from an examination of statistics that rapists go unpunished ninety percent of the time.

Attention from Gwen Florio’s articles on rape leads to a request that Chief Muir appear to answer questions at a videotaped public forum. The forum is held before Missoula City Council in January, 2012. Chief Muir speaks about the need for officers to be better at communicating with victims. Then Kerry Barrett speaks. She criticizes Kirsten Pabst, the county prosecutor, for testifying at Calvin Smith’s university hearing. After the meeting, Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenberg tells Kerry Barrett that Kirsten Pabst had a moral duty to testify, and Kerry Barrett retorts that Kirsten Pabst did not have a moral duty to try to keep a rapist in the community. Later, in conversation with Krakauer, Barrett praises Gwen Florio for bringing more scrutiny on the police and county attorney’s office.

Summary: Chapter 10

Chapter 10 begins with an examination of research by the scholar David Lisak. David Lisak’s studies suggest eighty-five percent of sexual assaults take place between acquaintances. Rapists are, also, often repeat offenders. A vast majority of rapes in a given community are carried out by a small percentage of individuals. These serial rapists hide in plain sight. Because they harbor the normal societal myths and misconceptions about rape, they are not always aware that the sex they have with unconscious women, for example, is rape. Lisak plays Krakauer a disturbing video re-enactment of an interview he conducted with a typical sexual predator. In the video, a college student given the alias “Frank” brags about his sexual conquests. He describes getting girls blackout-drunk at his fraternity and holding them down while having sex with them. The problem, Krakauer concludes, is that those responsible for holding rapists accountable don’t consider people like Frank to be violent criminals.

Analysis: Chapters 9 & 10

Missoula consistently shows how law enforcement and legal systems ignore and disempower rape victims. Kerry Barrett is able to get more attention from the Missoula Police department largely because of a fortunate coincidence: her father is a former police officer. Krakauer shows how police do not treat Barrett, Kelly, and other rape victims in Missoula as if their reports were true. Instead, the reader sees how police have excused the behavior of rapists and questioned victims’ motives for coming forward. Chief Muir lies to Kevin Barrett, then, when he claims that his officers are trained correctly to believe victims’ reports until they have gathered all available evidence. Furthermore, Muir contradicts his argument in favor of the department’s sensitivity when he sends Kelly and Barrett outdated and false research, research that reinforces rape myths. Krakauer uses Brian Banks’ story to highlight how rare and improbable false rape allegations are. They occur only in exceptional circumstances, not fifty percent of the time, as Muir suggests. It is much more likely, Krakauer argues, for truthful rape reports by underrepresented victims to be ignored.

One of the messages of Missoula is that rape victims have little chance of finding justice if those responsible for investigating their rapes believe and spread inaccurate information. These inaccurate myths are part of what prevent rape from being prosecuted. Media attention from Gwen Florio and other journalists in Missoula breaks the silence around on-campus rape. These news reports help to educate the community and initiate measures that could lead to more significant change. The public forum that stems in part from Florio’s coverage puts additional pressure on the Missoula Police Department to improve the way it communicates with victims and investigates rape. During the forum, Chief Muir shows that he is a skilled politician. As in his private meeting with Barrett and Kelly, he says the right things and promises change. The police, however, are just one part of the problem for rape victims seeking justice in Missoula. Prosecutors in the County Attorney’s Office, like Kirsten Pabst, go out of their way to defend accused rapists. County Attorney Fred Van Valkenberg defends Pabst’s (his employee’s) decision to testify for a rapist, saying she did what was morally right. In reality, Pabst’s behavior was unethical. Kerry Barrett shows great courage by sharing her story and speaking truth to power in the public forum.

In Chapter 10, Krakauer begins to delve more deeply into academic research on acquaintance rape. This research tries to answer key questions about rape and rapists by examining statistical and clinical data. What the data shows is that most rape occurs between people who know each other and that the only clear thing that clearly distinguishes rapists from the rest of a population is the act of rape. Rapists do tend, however, to have narcissistic personality traits. The “Frank” video interview demonstrates that. Lisak’s clinical interviews show that rapists are sometimes unaware that the acts they commit against unconscious or defenseless victims are rapes. This suggests that better educating young men about rape and better promoting awareness of and empathy for rape victims might help to prevent rape from taking place. Likewise, the chapter argues that law enforcement officials and prosecutors need to be better educated about just how “normal” rapists can seem. If law enforcement does not learn to recognize that “normal” people may, in fact, be violent criminals, than rapists will continue to get away with their crimes.