The bestselling journalist dives into the acquaintance rape scandal that enveloped the University of Montana and members of its football team, coupled with the inability (or refusal?) of local prosecutors to convict accused rapists.
In May 2012, Jezebel posted an article, “My Weekend in America’s So-Called ‘Rape Capital,’ ” referring to Missoula, Montana, though both the writer of that article and Krakauer (Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way, 2011, etc.) note that the rate of reported rapes in Missoula was commensurate with the rates in other college towns. Given the fanatic devotion for the Grizzlies, the university’s football team, and the fact that its players were accused of both gang and one-on-one rapes, Krakauer finds in Missoula the perfect storm of scandal. (In fact, some locals like to believe that football players don’t need to rape anyone because they can have sex with whomever they’d like.) The author homes in on the stories of several victims: one whose assailant was convicted, one whose wasn’t, and another whose crime was punished by expulsion from the university—though he was never found legally guilty (one revealing thread of Krakauer’s investigations is the appalling ineptitude of university administrators when confronted with accusations of rape among their students). The author focuses on the plight of a brave undergrad who, after considerable trepidation, decided to go public with her accusation against star player Beau Donaldson. Krakauer has done considerable research into acquaintance rape, and his recounting of trials, both legal and university proceedings, is riveting. His focus on quoting from testimony means that it is harder for readers to understand the motivations of someone like Kirsten Pabst, a former prosecutor who became a lawyer for an accused football player; an interview with her could have been useful.
A raw and difficult but necessary read.