Summary: Chapter 13

Chapter 13 resumes Allison Huguet’s story. Allison hears a rumor that Beau was previously accused of sexual. Krakauer narrates how, in Missoula in the fall of 2008, Beau sexually assaulted a woman named Hillary McLaughlin. McLaughlin is from Great Falls and has come to Missoula for the weekend. Beau attends a party in the house where McLaughlin is staying. Though the two have just met, Beau hangs on McLaughlin throughout the evening. After a few hours, she leaves the party and goes upstairs to get ready for bed. Beau comes into the room where McLaughlin is staying, locks the door, takes off his shorts, pins her down, and rubs his penis on McLaughlin through the bed sheets. She starts screaming. Her friends come and try to get the door open. Beau, all the while, keeps rubbing himself McLaughlin and trying to kiss her. Eventually, McLaughlin’s friends break down the door and pull Beau off of her. McLaughlin is deeply affected by the incident and even wonders if she is somehow to blame. After the encounter, she develops crippling anxiety.

In January 2012, Detective Baker tracks down McLaughlin and asks her to give a statement. She is unsure. The incident is now deep in her past. She consults with her family and decides that, since a statement might help Allison’s case and keep Beau from raping anyone else, it is the right thing to do. She drives to Missoula and gives her statement. It is a welcome development for Allison’s case. Juries are more likely to convict serial rapists.

Summary: Chapter 14

In early January 2012, Beau is released from jail. Missoula Deputy County Attorney, Shaun Donovan, is in charge of prosecuting Allison’s case. He wants to offer a plea deal in which he would suggest lenient punishment in exchange for Beau’s pleading guilty in court. Allison insists that they try for a lengthy sentence at the state penitentiary. Shaun Donovan is a former employee of Beau’s lawyer, Milt Datsopoulos, and Allison is concerned that Donovan isn’t being strong enough in prosecuting her case. In addition, Donovan asks Allison not to communicate with federal investigators, saying that doing so might harm her case. Allison questions this, saying that the added pressure might help to convince Beau and Datsopoulos to accept a plea deal with a higher recommended maximum sentence.

Legal proceedings in Allison’s case drag on for months. In June 2012, Allison goes out for her older sister, Sarah Huguet’s, bachelorette party. At a bar, she, her sisters, and her friends run into some of Beau’s friends, including Sam Erschler and Beau’s older brother, Brady Donaldson. Erschler tells Allison’s friend Norman to stay away from Allison and her sisters because they are nothing but trouble, and Norman tells the Huguets what he said. Allison confronts Erschler, saying she doesn’t speak ill of him behind his back, and the encounter escalates. Brady Donaldson shouts at the girls, saying, “You need to get the fuck out of Missoula!” and someone else in the group threatens to kill them. The Huguets leave the bar while Erschler, Brady Donaldson, and their friends shout after them and make threats.

The encounter at the bar convinces Allison to settle for nothing less than a harsh sentence for Beau, one that requires him to serve time in the state penitentiary. She and Detective Baker meet with prosecutor Shaun Donovan. Donovan warns Allison about how hard it would be for her to take the stand against Datsopoulos. He insists that he will not recommend a sentence simply because it’s what the victim wants. Indeed, he is not required by law to prosecute based on a victim’s wishes.

Analysis: Chapters 13 & 14

In Chapter 13, Krakauer shows how crucial establishing a history of criminal behavior can be for the prosecution of rape cases. If prosecutors can establish that an alleged rapist has a history of sexual assault, then they are far more likely to obtain a conviction from a jury. A previous history of assault may also persuade a judge to impose a harsher sentence on a convicted rapist. Detective Baker continues to be one of Allison’s strongest allies. He tracks down Hillary McLaughlin and records her story. Beau’s assault against McLaughlin took place in similar conditions to his assault against Allison. Beau and McLaughlin drank heavily at a college party, and, as with Allison, Beau waited until McLaughlin was alone before attacking her. Unlike Allison, McLaughlin screamed, and this is probably the only thing that prevented Beau from raping her. However, she still suffers from extreme anxiety for years.

When McLaughlin wonders if she is somehow to blame for Beau’s behavior, her reaction is another demonstration of the counterintuitive response victims may have to trauma. Krakauer argues that, like McLaughlin, many victims prefer not to revisit traumatic episodes, especially when they have struggled for years to leave those episodes behind. Ultimately, McLaughlin’s hope that she might be able to keep Beau raping anyone else convinces her to work with Detective Baker. Despite McLaughlin’s cooperation and Detective Baker’s strong police work, however, Shaun Donovan is unwilling to do the tough prosecution that Allison feels is necessary for her case. Winning justice is a long, drawn-out, and bureaucratic exchange. Krakauer uses the question of Beau’s sentence to keep Beau and Allison’s story suspenseful for the reader after Beau’s guilt is established. For Allison to feel she has won her case, Beau’s punishment must correspond to the severity of his crime.

By pointing out that Shaun Donovan was a former employee of Beau’s attorney, Milt Datsopoulos, Krakauer suggests that Donovan may have a conflict of interest that prevents him from properly prosecuting Allison’s case. Donovan’s allegiance to his former boss might make him more willing to cooperate with the defense and less willing to insist on a harsher maximum sentence. When Donovan requests that Allison not speak to federal investigators, his behavior is ethically suspect. Donovan lies to Allison when he says that speaking to federal investigators might hurt her case against Beau. What’s more likely is that Donovan is worried that federal investigators will see that he is doing a subpar job prosecuting Allison’s case. Allison’s observation that added pressure from the Department of Justice would mean added pressure on Beau and his attorney is probably accurate, but Donovan’s self-interest outweighs his commitment to Allison’s case. Donovan hypocritically suggests that he plans on offering a lenient sentence to Beau because, should Beau decline the settlement and take the case to trial, testifying would be too hard for Allison.

Meanwhile, Beau’s actions still continue to negatively affect Allison’s. Krakauer shows how Beau’s actions have imprisoned Allison in her own anxiety. She has to be careful where she goes or who she sees in Missoula. As the reader learns, being in the wrong place at the wrong time might result in threats against Allison’s life. Even Allison’s old friends, like Sam Erschler, to whom Allison went for support after Beau raped her, have turned against her now that Beau is facing punishment. It is not easy for rape victims to pursue justice against their rapists. As Missoula progresses, it becomes clearer why most rape victims never report their rapes to law enforcement. Doing so results in a tremendous ordeal.