Friday, February 8, 2013

Welcome back to Missoula, national media

Posted By on Fri, Feb 8, 2013 at 9:18 AM

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The beginning of former Griz quarterback Jordan Johnson's rape trial has brought the national media spotlight back to Montana.

ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson posted an extensive piece about the trial yesterday afternoon. He believes injuries will play a key role in the courtroom.

In many similar cases, known in the courts as "acquaintance rape" prosecutions, any injury to the victim proves to be the most important evidence. According to court filings made by the prosecution, the woman suffered "small abrasions," redness and swelling in the genital area as a result of the sexual encounter, as well as "marks on her chest and tenderness to the side of her head." It is expected that the prosecutors will argue that the vaginal abrasions are evidence of nonconsensual sex.

Johnson's lawyers will tell the jury that the injuries were the result of consensual sex and have hired at least two "independent medical providers" who will offer expert testimony in support of their assertion.

Munson goes on to say the prosecution faces "significant challenges on the issue of consent." It's worth a full read.

The New York Times also wrote a preview piece that published yesterday. The story mostly rehashed the issue of sexual assaults at UM and the three ongoing investigations into how administrators handled those assault claims, but also includes a strong quote from former Congressman Pat Williams.

“We’ve had sex assaults, vandalism, beatings by football players,” said Pat Williams, a former congressman and a member of the Montana Board of Regents. “The university has recruited thugs for its football team, and this thuggery has got to stop.”

Williams gave Munson a similar quote, adding football players acted like "arrogant marauders."

There's more, of course. ABC's "Good Morning America" ran a segment on the trial earlier today, and USA Today picked up the Associated Press account. As for local coverage, the Missoulian's Gwen Florio is tweeting live from jury selection and the Indy has a reporter on the scene, as well.

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