Summary: Chapter 11

Chapter 11 begins Part Three of Missoula, “Unwanted Attention.” Krakauer recounts the escalating concern over rape in early 2012. Beau Donaldson’s arrest is a front-page story in the Missoulian on January 7. The next week, another story appears about an unnamed woman who, after possibly being drugged, was raped while unconscious in the snow outside her dormitory the previous year. At the end of January 2012, a private investigation into rape requested by the university concludes that the university is failing and that reports of rape on the UM campus require immediate action. Next, Krakauer describes how, on the same day in early February, a student who is a Saudi national lured two females to his room separately. The student tries to rape the first woman and does rape the second. Perhaps because the University of Montana doesn’t immediately notify the police, the student is able to flee the country. The community is outraged. UM president Royce Engstrom claims the university has an obligation to protect rape victims by not giving their names to police, but the law on the matter, Krakauer writes, is confusing. The mandate from the Dear Colleague Letter that universities take “immediate steps to investigate rape” is vague.

Next, in March 2012, the local media breaks the story that UM quarterback Jordan Johnson has been served with a restraining order for the alleged sexual assault of Cecilia Washburn. Krakauer goes back to describe what took place. Johnson and Washburn have an extended flirtatious friendship. They start texting a lot in early 2012, and on the night of February 3, Washburn tells Johnson in front of Johnson’s friend, “Jordy, I would do you anytime.” The next night Johnson and Washburn get together to watch a movie in Washburn’s room. They begin kissing, but Washburn says she doesn’t want to have sex that night. Eventually, Johnson sits on top of her. She tells him “no.” He pins her down despite her struggles and protests. He tells her to turn over, penetrates her without a condom, and says that she wanted it. She texts her friend saying she thinks she might have been raped. She wants Johnson out of her house, and drives him home. On the way out, her roommate notices she is crying.

Summary: Chapter 12

After waking up in her room on February 5, Cecilia Washburn’s talks to a friend who comes and takes her to the clinic. She has a rape kit collected. She decides to report the rape to the University of Montana but not the police. A week later, Jordan Johnson is notified by mail that he is under investigation for violating the UM Student Conduct Code section that prohibits rape. His roommate drives him from their house to their coach, Robin Pflugard’s, house. Johnson tells Coach Pflugard about the investigation, saying that the sex was consensual. After Johnson leaves, Pflugard calls athletic director Jim O’Day and the athletic department mobilizes to defend Johnson against the allegation.

In early March, Washburn sees Johnson across campus and has symptoms of a panic attack. That’s when she files for a restraining order against Johnson. Coach Pflugard continues to let Johnson practice with the football team. He tells reporter Gwen Florio how glad the team is that Johnson is there with them on the field. Washburn’s lawyer, Josh Van de Wetering, writes UM president Royce Engstrom. Van de Wetering feels Coach Pflugard doesn’t understand the seriousness of the allegations against Johnson. Engstrom responds by firing Coach Pflugard and Athletic Director Jim O’Day. At the end of March, the football team posts an open letter on an online forum in which they lament losing their coach. Krakauer points out that the letter acknowledges the impact rape allegations are having on the football program, but lacks any expression of concern for victims. On May 1, the U.S. Department of Justice announces it is conducting a federal investigation into the way the University of Montana, the Missoula Police Department, and the County Attorney’s Office are handing sexual assault cases in Missoula.

Analysis: Chapters 11 & 12

The title of Part Three, “Unwanted Attention,” has several applications. First, it refers to the unwanted attention women receive from aggressive men. It also refers to the attention rapists in Missoula begin to be paid by law enforcement, and, finally, it refers to the unwanted attention the university, law enforcement, and prosecutors begin to receive from the media and from federal investigations. As a work of investigative journalism, Missoula is constantly taking stock of and evaluating the role journalism plays in bringing attention to the underreporting and mishandling of rape cases in Missoula. One of its arguments is that media attention has a snowball effect. With each breaking story, victims gain confidence and persuasive leverage. Though repeated rape headlines may, in the short term, contribute to a feeling of panic and frenzy, Krakauer argues that journalistic examinations by writers like Gwen Florio are ultimately a good thing. With this argument, Krakauer also justifies his own journalistic project.

In Chapter 11, Krakauer examines how the University of Montana reports rape to law enforcement. He argues that the University of Montana and universities in general are in a difficult position when it comes to reporting rape. Universities want to respect victims’ rights to privacy—some victims may not want their cases taken to law enforcement at all. But a university also has a duty to ensure that rapists are removed from campus and students are protected. Initial media reports and public opinion blame the University of Montana for inadvertently allowing a foreign exchange student who committed rape to escape the United States. From a few years’ remove, Krakauer is more forgiving of the way the University handled the situation. He argues that a standardized rape response protocol might help resolve future difficulties, but that both the protocol in place and the laws applying to the University of Montana at the time were unclear.

For most Missoulians, the biggest story to break during the entire rape crisis is Jordan Johnson’s accusation and arrest. This story does not come to the attention of the general public until Washburn files a legal proceeding against Johnson, which indicates that the University of Montana took its obligation to protect Washburn’s privacy seriously. Because this rape was such a central moment in the Missoula rape crisis and serves as a central story in the book, Krakauer precisely describes the events leading up to and during the night of the rape. Leading up to their encounter, Washburn tells Johnson she would be willing to have sex with him anytime, but, once again, sexual consent can always be withdrawn. On the night in question, Washburn clearly verbally withdraws consent and physically withdraws consent by resisting Johnson’s advances. Her uncertainty over whether or not she has been raped is, as Krakauer says, a normal aspect of processing trauma.

The University of Montana’s disciplinary action against Jordan Johnson is very similar to its action against Calvin Smith. Like Smith, Johnson receives a letter indicating that he is under investigation by the University of Montana for violation of its conduct code. Unlike Smith, however, Johnson has an extensive support network behind him. As the star player on the University of Montana football team, Johnson has his teammates and coaches advocating for him. Not only do the programs work to defend Johnson against the allegations against him, they treat him as if he has done nothing wrong. But Krakauer shows even the privilege of football players has limits. University of Montana president Royce Engstrom finally decides that the athletic department has over-extended its power. Engstrom’s decision to fire Coach Pflugard and Athletic Director O’Day is the first clear indication that, from the highest level, the University of Montana is no longer ignoring the problem of rape and the voices of rape victims on its campus. Engstrom is not alone in recognizing that the situation has spun out of control in Missoula, and Krakauer presents the federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice as another victory for the victims, activists, and journalists working to change rape culture in Missoula.