Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town

Written by:
Jon Krakauer
Narrated by:
Mozhan MarnĂ² , Scott Brick

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
April 2015
11 hours 51 minutes
From bestselling author Jon Krakauer, a stark, powerful, meticulously reported narrative about a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana ­— stories that illuminate the human drama behind the national plague of campus rape
Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, with a highly regarded state university, bucolic surroundings, a lively social scene, and an excellent football team — the Grizzlies — with a rabid fan base.
The Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012. Few of these assaults were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.
A DOJ report released in December of 2014 estimates 110,000 women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four are raped each year. Krakauer’s devastating narrative of what happened in Missoula makes clear why rape is so prevalent on American campuses, and why rape victims are so reluctant to report assault.
Acquaintance rape is a crime like no other. Unlike burglary or embezzlement or any other felony, the victim often comes under more suspicion than the alleged perpetrator. This is especially true if the victim is sexually active; if she had been drinking prior to the assault — and if the man she accuses plays on a popular sports team. The vanishingly small but highly publicized incidents of false accusations are often used to dismiss her claims in the press. If the case goes to trial, the woman’s entire personal life becomes fair game for defense attorneys.
This brutal reality goes a long way towards explaining why acquaintance rape is the most underreported crime in America. In addition to physical trauma, its victims often suffer devastating psychological damage that leads to feelings of shame, emotional paralysis and stigmatization. PTSD rates for rape victims are estimated to be 50%, higher than soldiers returning from war.
In Missoula, Krakauer chronicles the searing experiences of several women in Missoula — the nights when they were raped; their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the way they were treated by the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys; the public vilification and private anguish; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them.
Some of them went to the police. Some declined to go to the police, or to press charges, but sought redress from the university, which has its own, non-criminal judicial process when a student is accused of rape. In two cases the police agreed to press charges and the district attorney agreed to prosecute. One case led to a conviction; one to an acquittal. Those women courageous enough to press charges or to speak publicly about their experiences were attacked in the media, on Grizzly football fan sites, and/or to their faces. The university expelled three of the accused rapists, but one was reinstated by state officials in a secret proceeding. One district attorney testified for an alleged rapist at his university hearing. She later left the prosecutor’s office and successfully defended the Grizzlies’ star quarterback in his rape trial. The horror of being raped, in each woman’s case, was magnified by the mechanics of the justice system and the reaction of the community.
Krakauer’s dispassionate, carefully documented account of what these women endured cuts through the abstract ideological debate about campus rape. College-age women are not raped because they are promiscuous, or drunk, or send mixed signals, or feel guilty about casual sex, or seek attention. They are the victims of a terrible crime and deserving of compassion from society and fairness from a justice system that is clearly broken. 
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I found this book to be very enlightening.

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Nick H.

Great book to listen to.

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Pamela C

This is a very tough subject to listen to but a vitally important one. As a mother of a college age daughter I am grateful that Jon chose this subject.i have read all of his books and, while looking for another book for my book club, decided to look him up in the hope that he had released another book! What a surprise to learn it was this subject.! Very well researched a factually told, it can be a bit forensic-y at times but those are the details necessary to faithfully tell the full scope of this story from Montana. A well written and thoughtful expose on the subtlety and tragedy bejind non stranger rape. Loved the narrator!

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Terri Carman

Good case study. Disturbing truth.

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Jeff Nischwitz

In typical John Krakauer fashion, this book opened my eyes and shook up my thinking. As always, well researched and a storytelling approach that pulls the reader in and gets your mental and emotional attention. Missoula opened my eyes in a dramatic way to the extent and impact of sexual abuse and rape in our country. And many ways, Missoula is a call to action and I intend to answer that call to become an ally of women.

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