In Chapter 16, Krakauer returns to Missoula’s second major storyline, the unfolding drama of Jordan Johnson and Cecilia Washburn. Krakauer begins to show how legal team defense tactics ignore victims’ rights and reinforce the trauma of rape. Cecilia Washburn has taken out a restraining order against Jordan Johnson because seeing him after the rape is a traumatic experience for her. To get around that restraining order legally, David Paoli hires a private detective to spy on Washburn’s house. The legal loophole Paoli uses is also incredibly invasive to Washburn. Next, Krakauer contrasts Johnson’s meeting with Dean Couture with Calvin Smith’s meeting with the dean. Johnson has the vast resources of the football team backing him. In his meeting with the dean, Smith unconsciously corroborated many of Kaitlyn Kelly’s statements about the evening she was raped. Johnson, however, has a lawyer present during his meeting, which helps prevent Johnson from giving any similar self-incriminating evidence. David Paoli turns the disciplinary hearing at which Johnson is supposed to give his account of the night the rape took place into an opportunity to debate what standard of evidence will be used against his client.
Despite Johnson’s more vigilant legal defense, Dean Couture reaches the same decision he reached with Calvin Smith. He finds Johnson guilty and expels him. Johnson, however, is able to appeal the decision, not just once, but four times. Paoli even appeals Johnson’s case outside the University of Montana to the Montana Board of Regents. Finally, Dean Couture, one of the University’s strongest victim advocates, retires from the University of Montana and is replaced by a new dean. Krakauer shows that, because Johnson is able to appeal so many times, he only needs to persist until he gets the result he wants. Paoli is able to manipulate the inefficient bureaucracy of the University until it finally agrees to use an incorrect and stricter standard of evidence. Even though Johnson’s case, at least according to the federal government, is handled incorrectly, Washburn must accept the University’s decision. Krakauer implies that the entire process is designed to protect the accused, while the needs of the victim are lost and forgotten.