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Mar 9, 2018

How One Attorney Is Changing Sexual Assault Prosecution

Kirsten Pabst

Someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds in America. This appalling truth is made worse by the fact that the statistic is based on known sexual assaults. Due to the secretive nature of the crime, many victims are afraid to come forward.

Montana’s finest chief elected prosecutor and Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst has been working tirelessly to cultivate a groundbreaking special victims unit that both cares for sexual assault victims and tackles crime differently.


Smart On Crime

Taking a smart approach to serving as a criminal prosecutor is essential. Kirsten Pabst certainly has demonstrated this by focusing criminal justice dollars on those offenders who present the highest risk. One of the challenges she addressed early on was secondary trauma, building a program that would prevent burnout in fellow attorneys trying traumatic cases. Kirsten Pabst put into action an award-winning program that educates and supports prosecutors through the most disturbing cases.

Alongside this achievement, which has shown great success, she has also pioneered a mediation program that prioritizes resources for severe criminal cases, such as sexual assault, over less dangerous ones. This approach promotes community safety and saves potentially millions of taxpayer dollars that would have otherwise been consumed by unnecessary trials for low-risk offenders.

Kirsten Pabst takes crime and punishment seriously. The criminal justice process can be emotionally wrenching for everyone involved—especially victims of sexual assault and violent crimes. That is why she and her special victims unit staff keep up to date on best practices for representing sexual assault victims and work closely with our law enforcement partners. In fact, they take a leadership role in working together with prosecutors in other jurisdictions on appropriate ways to be sensitive to the unique needs of victims while maintaining effectiveness in the courtroom.

Kirsten Pabst and many prosecutors in the United States are taking the lead in re-thinking how to properly prosecute cases that require this immense level of sensitivity and care. While she has taken a leadership role in trauma-informed trial work, she has also set her sights on changing the way our society reacts to sexual assault. To many young men and women who have been victimized, disclosing sexual abuse can be daunting and scary. But by getting smart on crime, and even more intelligent on culture, perhaps reduce the occurrence of sexual assaults in the future.

Read more about Kirsten’s Award Winning Programs.