Former Griz Beau Donaldson sentenced to prison for rape

2013-01-11T20:30:00Z 2013-07-16T18:23:36Z Former Griz Beau Donaldson sentenced to prison for rape missoulian.com

Saying that “people in Missoula need to know that if you rape an acquaintance, it is a serious crime,” Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg sought – and got – a 30-year-prison sentence, with 20 suspended, for Beau Donaldson on Friday.

Donaldson, a former University of Montana running back, pleaded guilty in September to raping a childhood friend two years earlier as she slept on his sofa.

Donaldson began to cry as Missoula County District Court Judge Karen Townsend pronounced the sentence. He’ll be eligible for parole if he serves a quarter – 2 1/2 years – of his 10 years in prison without incident.

Donaldson’s own lawyers initially suggested a three-year Department of Corrections sentence, preferably in community treatment, although revised that request to five years just before Townsend sentenced him.

“The court finds this an incredibly troubling case … a young woman’s trust has been violently taken from her,” Townsend told Donaldson. “… Beau, there are consequences for your behavior.”

There was no excuse she told him; the rape could not simply be explained away as “a mistake.”

People among Donaldson’s supporters wailed as Missoula County detention officers handcuffed the weeping defendant and led him from the packed room. The victim and her parents sat dry-eyed.

Until Friday, the Sept. 24, 2010, incident that saw Donaldson charged with sexual intercourse without consent has always been described in a sort of shorthand: He assaulted an acquaintance as she slept.

At the start of the 6 1/2-hour sentencing hearing, his 23-year-old victim, along with her mother and her best friend, described a far more harrowing scenario.

Donaldson’s victim said she feigned sleep out of sheer terror – “he’s got at least 100 pounds on me” – as Donaldson raped her, then waited until he’d left the room before she fled the apartment barefoot. According to testimony in the packed courtroom:

Her mother awoke at 5 a.m. to a phone call, “one that haunts me. … Sheer terror was radiating through the phone.”

It was her daughter, screaming. “She said, ‘Save me, Mom. Help me, Mom. Save me, he’s chasing me down an alley.’ ”

The victim said that Donaldson caught up with her at one point, grabbing her arm. “Honestly, I thought he was going to kill me. I thought I was dead. He has guns and I was running away with the knowledge that he had just raped me,” she said.

She broke away and he finally left. She saw her mother’s car coming toward her along South Avenue and flagged it down. But, she told her mother, her best friend was still in the apartment, sleeping unawares.

The friend, in her turn on the stand, said she, too, awakened to a terrifying call.

The victim “was saying, ‘Beau raped me. You need to get out of the house right now. My mom and I are outside waiting for you.’ ”

The trio then went first to Community Medical Center, then to the First Step center that treats sexual assault victims.


Also Friday, a woman testified by video feed that Donaldson sexually assaulted her at a party in 2008, coming into a bedroom as she slept and locking the door behind him. She screamed for help and friends finally broke in and pulled him off her, the woman testified.

That woman said she didn’t go to police because she just wanted to put the incident behind her. Likewise with Donaldson’s victim, although she later said she realized she couldn’t live with the fact that he might go on to assault other women.

“If I had found out some girl was going through this hell because I didn’t say anything, I probably would have killed myself. No way could I live with that,” she said.

She contacted police a little more than a year ago. After Donaldson admitted raping her in a phone call taped by police, he was arrested last January.

Donaldson’s victim, her mother and friend all cried during their testimony. Not the victim’s father, who informed Donaldson that he was “pissed off,” and then told the entire courtroom “that kid right there is the no-good piece-of-s— rapist that raped my daughter.”

After a quick protest from Donaldson’s attorney, Milt Datsopoulos, the man assured Townsend that he was done cursing, but continued with a furious statement that repeatedly referred to Donaldson only as “the rapist” and “a perverted monster.”

“I’m so proud of my daughter for standing up to him,” he said.


Donaldson’s father also expressed pride in his child. In a brief statement at the end of Friday’s hearing, he said of his son: “He’s a young man. He’s remorseful. It doesn’t make it right. Let him make it right.”

The young woman and Donaldson, as well as their families, had known one another since the children were in first grade. Larry Donaldson, his wife standing silent beside him, pleaded for healing for both families. The victim’s testimony, he said, “made me cry. It makes me cry when I look at my boy.”

He looked at his son anyway. “I’ll be your rock now because you’ve been my rock your whole life,” he said. “I love you, kid.”

Beau Donaldson apologized directly to the victim, her family and friends, and his own family and friends.

“It’s just rippled down and rippled down and rippled down,” he said of the effects of the crime.

But Van Valkenburg attributed Donaldson’s remorse to his “having to finally face up to what he did.”

As part of that facing up, Donaldson must pay nearly $10,600 in restitution – including the cost of the victim’s counseling – and fees once he’s out of prison, Townsend ordered. His pre-sentence report recommended sex offender treatment; he’ll also be eligible for a boot camp program, Townsend said.

He’ll be designated a Tier 1 sex offender, meaning he’s considered at low risk to repeat the offense.


Both Van Valkenburg and Datsopoulos queried witnesses Friday as to their thoughts on a fitting sentence. When Van Valkenburg put the question to the victim, she hesitated.

They’d been friends forever, she said, though never romantically involved. He was like a big brother to her.

“I can’t take away the fact that I care about him. … I want him to get help. I want him to be the person I grew up with.”

But the rape proved that he’s not that person anymore, she said.

She turned to Donaldson. “I truly think you deserve to be raped every day until you understand the pain this has caused me … until you get it, Beau.

“I truly hope you can come out of this a person of quality. … Until then, I don’t care what happens to you.”

Reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, gwen.florio@missoulian.com or @CopsAndCourts.

Missoulian reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, gwen.florio@missoulian.com, or @CopsAndCourts.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(30) Comments

  1. BrotherMichael
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    BrotherMichael - January 30, 2013 10:45 pm
    pray for th
  2. 0to40
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    0to40 - January 22, 2013 10:58 am
    Rape = Power. Somewhere in this cats brain, he needs to show power over a woman. Usually sleeping! I am interested in the disconnect of his brain. I am also interested to see what his comments would be; If they put him in the general population where he can be 'violated' while he is sleeping. It is a 'rite of passage'!
  3. motherjones
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    motherjones - January 18, 2013 8:52 am
    rape is a violent crime. it deserves a "harsh" penalty.

    when will crimes against women be taken seriously?
  4. LiveLaughLove
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    LiveLaughLove - January 18, 2013 8:18 am
    I know, right? You can also NOT be an upstanding citizen, drive drunk at nearly 100mph in a 35-mph zone with your license suspended, with no insurance and no registration, and in possession of a marijuana pipe with drugs in your system, with a long, long history of documented (and undocumented) criminal behavior, and kill someone and get a lesser sentence. Not that I'm advocating for lesser sentences for rapists; I'm not. I'm advocating for greater sentences for vehicular homicide under the influence.
  5. glacierdude
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    glacierdude - January 17, 2013 12:25 pm
    Just curious....does it also make you sick when you hear about some poor schmoe who has just completed a 25 or 30 year sentence only to be freed by DNA testing? You are aware that it happens and it happens far too often. Donaldson is guilty. He will pay a price for his actions but your anger towards men in general, with no acknowledgement that men CAN BE victims of rape also by being raped as well as by being falsley accused of rape......well, it is just wrong.
  6. glacierdude
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    glacierdude - January 17, 2013 12:20 pm
    So what is it, Neocon or Tea Party? They are quite different you know. You wouldn't by any chance just be throwing out a couple talking points would you?
  7. Rational Mind
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    Rational Mind - January 13, 2013 11:15 pm
    1. Don't put drugs in women's drinks.
    2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.
    3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.
    4. If you are in a lift and a woman gets in, don't rape her.
    5. Never creep into a woman's home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.
    6. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
    7. Don't forget: It's not sex with someone who's asleep or unconscious -- it's RAPE!
    8. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone "by accident" you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can call for help.
    9. Don't forget: Honesty is the best policy. If you have every intention of having sex later on with the woman you're dating, regardless of how she feels about it, tell her directly that there is every chance you will rape her. If you don't communicate your intentions, she may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her and inadvertently feel safe.
    10. Don't rape.
  8. dsrobins
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    dsrobins - January 12, 2013 3:22 pm

    He'll have more to cry about when the bubbas in Deer Lodge get hold of him.

  9. raptor53
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    raptor53 - January 12, 2013 3:21 pm
    its about choices Walter, Donaldson's decision to rape his friend. No one destroyed his life ! He is responsible and confessed to his deed. The woman isnt a pawn, she is a victim. You're the master of Pretzel Logic, indeed !
  10. raptor53
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    raptor53 - January 12, 2013 1:54 pm
    he's guilty, period. by own admission. he's not the victim here. he's not being made an example. he IS a sexual offender. it's black and white. don't do the crime if you dont want to do the time. I wish the first woman would have dropped the dime on him, then perhaps the real victim here would not have had to go though this ordeal. He may well in fact find out soon enough what it feels like to be the victim.
  11. swimwfishes
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    swimwfishes - January 12, 2013 1:08 pm
    Go crawl under a rock Walter.
  12. swimwfishes
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    swimwfishes - January 12, 2013 1:06 pm
    Because that would take all day long and there are far too many sexual crimes and assaults against women that occur in this community for the size of the community. I have a full time job and a child to raise and influence and to teach him to be a productive member of society and to stand up against crimes like these committed by his gender. I get tired of reading comments from people blaming the victims of these crimes claiming that their stories could never be real or blaming clothing or drinking. Most rapes are committed not by strangers but by acquaintances or friends. Most go unreported for the same reasons stated by this victim. Do you get it now? Can you quit blaming these women now?
  13. Bass Whacker
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    Bass Whacker - January 12, 2013 12:00 pm
    The point of this story should be that a guy who committed a horrible crime against a life -long friend, admitted his guilt, was sentenced to prison, and may through his behavior from this date forward receive some reduction of time in prison. In other words, justice was served. Those who think this is time to celebrate with another trashing of the Griz football program are truly disgusting and ignore what happended here. For those who would fault the Griz coaches for recruiting this kid, implying they should have known or anticipated he was a thug capable of this kind of conduct, keep in mind this victim, a life-long friend, had no clue he was capable of this kind of behavior. She voluntarily partied with Dondalson at his home, chose to stay the night there with her female friend, and did so without any fear or clue this could happen. If someone who knew Donaldson this well and for this long had no clue he was capable of this, how on earth could the Griz coaches? The only person who deserves blame, scorn and ridicule here is Donaldson. And if you want to blame the Griz coaches, well then you have to start first and blame those who knew him better like his victim, her family, his family, his highschool coaches and friends, his grade school friends and teachers, his church pastor, and all those people who knew him better than the Griz coaching staff. This guy is a puke, and is the only person responsible for what he did. Using Griz hater thug recruiting logic, with this conviction, no college in the US should offer any male athlete from Missoula a scholarship in any sport because all male athletes from Missoula highschools are thugs and rapists.
  14. growup
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    growup - January 12, 2013 11:53 am
    Where do you get this "Studies show 30% are false reports"? Evidence? Besides your opinion? Some Men's Rights website, perhaps?

    Cite something. Look at the actual facts. Non-biases sources.

    The largest and most scientifically rigorous study of false reports ever by the British Home Office which studied rape reports spanning 15 years found an 8% false report rate. The FBI also found false allegations at 8%. (source: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/1996/96sec2.pdf)

    Studies with actual accreditation but the average rate between 5.9%-9%.

    The false reports of rape are actually LOWER than other crimes.

    Further more, most CONSERVATIVE reports show that over 75% of rapes are NEVER reported. The American Medical Association says sexual violence is the most "underreported" crime, period.

    You should be ashamed of yourself for the disinformation you're spouting.

  15. pophouse
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    pophouse - January 12, 2013 11:43 am
    Its a ten year sentence with the possibility of parole in 2.5 years. It may be on the light side, but typically when a defendant has no pryer arrests and has pled guilty he doesn't get the maximum sentence. Personally, I think 2.5 years should be sufficient to wake him up to the severity of his crime. I wouldn't have minded more, but it certainly is far from worst sentence I've heard of -- remember the guy who got 90 days in jail for raping two teenagers?
  16. montanaduck
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    montanaduck - January 12, 2013 10:40 am
    Everyome needs to stop calling this a epidemic of Missoula, this happens EVERYWHERE. It may not be as flamboiently publisized as it is in Missoula, but this is not isolated to this town or this football team. Get real people, not every town has a Gwen Florio to continually pour gas on the fire.
  17. MontanaNative1ed7
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    MontanaNative1ed7 - January 12, 2013 10:04 am
    Walter you sound like a paranoid neo liberal (free my gun, free the corporations). You are extreme. At a certain point the extremists whether left or right find themselves brainwashed. I hope you can deprogram yourself before that happens. It is hard to stop thinking in black and white. With some effort you can learn to see things outside of the Teaparty NEOCON viewpoint. I am sorry that this has happened to you. I do hope you have the strength to deprogram yourself.
  18. walter12
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    walter12 - January 12, 2013 7:40 am
    What a waste and a shame. This incident and case became a (cause celebre) for the old town leftists and they successfully used this case to advance their causes, while destroying this kid's life. This young woman was a pawn used by these leftists groups out of UM.
  19. growup
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    growup - January 12, 2013 7:18 am
    Are you kidding me? We hope she doesn't recant her story, because we can't change that this man is going to jail?

    He raped her, and he ADMITTED he raped her. When was the last time you saw someone openly plead guilty? He did it- there is no doubt. I'm sick of these sorry "Men's Rights" apologists acting like every rape is case is a case of women lying. Seriously, how more more clear cut could this case be? What does someone like you need to believe a rape victim? You probably wouldn't believe it if there was as video tape of the incident. You'd still say she was asking for it or something. Disgusting.
  20. montanamuralist
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    montanamuralist - January 12, 2013 6:22 am
    Seems pretty obvious...these are also the people who claim that those of us who support the Griz football program condone rape. It is ridiculous and stupid! They are as bad as the right wingers I loath so much. No one condones rape in this community. We do condone fairness and extreme advocates contention that if a woman satys she was raped, it makes it automatically true...it just not part of the real world..so then they say we condone rape. Statistics show that close to 30% are not rapes or false reports.....want the data I will give it to you...but easy to find on any ling..try Google search. That being said, this seems a little light but obviously the victim thinks he is salvageable and that is what the sentence reflects. He will carry this the rest of us his life long after his sentence is complete ( which is when he is in middle age by the way....that is enough. The victim will carry this for the rest of her life..seems just but she did not ask for him to be ruined and that was compassionate of her. Mucxh more than some of the comments we see here from the extremists...
  21. frazzle
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    frazzle - January 12, 2013 3:56 am
    but you can still drive drunk kill two people and get less time ,as long as your an upstanding member of the community.
  22. Barkinlounger
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    Barkinlounger - January 12, 2013 2:23 am
    We can only hope she doesn't recant her story in a few years after there is nothing she or anybody else can do to change the present.
  23. PelosiGalore
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    PelosiGalore - January 12, 2013 12:33 am
    Too bad the judge is willing to let this slime out in 2.5 years and doesn't get it. Level 1 sex offender? Not likely to offend again? Are you kidding me? He already has a history of repeating his crimes. At least Dad was spot on with his comments
    I wish more women were as strong as this young lady......"She turned to Donaldson. “I truly think you deserve to be raped every day until you understand the pain this has caused me … until you get it, Beau.

    “I truly hope you can come out of this a person of quality. … Until then, I don’t care what happens to you."
    So much for rape victims being weak or somehow damaged. This is the kind of AMAZING young lady that any good man would be lucky to marry someday. This whole community should be very, very proud of her.
  24. Bittersweet
    Report Abuse
    Bittersweet - January 11, 2013 9:50 pm
    Why is it swimfishes you never comment or offer support to any of the other victims of unimaginable crimes that are reported here in the Missoulian?
  25. Bittersweet
    Report Abuse
    Bittersweet - January 11, 2013 9:47 pm
    It's a "harsh" sentence? Really? Tell that to the victim. You know as well as I he will likely be walking the streets within the next few years. Of course he has to register as a sex offender. He is a sex offender. If he screws up probation the judge SHOULD send him back to prison. That is what probation is all about.
  26. PugFan3700
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    PugFan3700 - January 11, 2013 8:47 pm
    I don't think you guys fully understand what his sentence was... Yes, he MAY be eligible for parole in 2.5 years. However, most offenders are denied parole at their first appearance before the parole board, especially if the victim or the county attorney protests his release.

    Also, if he gets out, he has to register as a Tier I sex offender, which means that everyone will know what he's been convicted of. If he moves, he has to update the registry. If he doesn't, he can be charged with an additional felony. If he screws up on probation, the Judge can send him back to prison for the 20 years she suspended.

    It's a harsh sentence. Make no mistake of that.
  27. swimwfishes
    Report Abuse
    swimwfishes - January 11, 2013 8:26 pm
    Do you get it now Missoula? We need to stop this epidemic of sexual assault and rape. Quit blaming the victims, offer support and make the county attorney prosecute these monsters who perpetrate these crimes!
  28. RPT
    Report Abuse
    RPT - January 11, 2013 7:52 pm
    Our justice system has becoming more and more of a joke.
    It’s all about protecting the criminal's rights with a total disregard for any
    attempt at justice for the victim.
  29. loveymama
    Report Abuse
    loveymama - January 11, 2013 7:40 pm
    He's a rapist. Rapists get sent to prison. Regardless of his status on the "beloved" grizzlies football team, and regardless of the several meat head knuckle draggers who will no doubt cry that he was made an example of, I am impressed that the system worked for the victim in this case. The ONLY person to be blamed in a rape is the RAPIST.
  30. Bittersweet
    Report Abuse
    Bittersweet - January 11, 2013 5:29 pm
    2 1/2 half years doesn't seem like much time.
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