Former Griz Donaldson seeks reduced rape sentence

2013-05-04T12:00:00Z 2013-07-16T18:23:35Z Former Griz Donaldson seeks reduced rape sentence

A former Montana Grizzlies running back serving time in the Montana State Prison for rape has requested a lighter sentence from a review panel, and the Missoula County Attorney’s Office anticipates a decision will be announced in a couple of weeks.

In January, Beau Donaldson was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with 20 suspended, by Missoula District Court Judge Karen Townsend.

On Thursday, the Missoula man and his lawyer called the sentence excessive and asked that it be reduced.

His lawyer could not be reached for comment, but in a video of the proceedings, Donaldson said he wants the chance to “rehabilitate myself and make myself a better person.”

The victim in the rape, however, told the three-judge sentence review panel that she doesn’t have the opportunity to request a review of the “life sentence he has forced on me.” The woman, who fled barefoot from his apartment in a harrowing foot chase after the rape, asked the judges to punish Donaldson.

“The only thing that is excessive in this case is the amount of suffering Beau has caused,” the woman said.

Donaldson pleaded guilty in September to raping his childhood friend two years earlier as she slept on his sofa. In sentencing him, Townsend said Donaldson would be eligible for parole if he served 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. Donaldson has admitted drug and alcohol abuse, and Thursday he requested 25 years suspended with the remaining five years served in a Department of Corrections treatment program, according to KECI-TV.

At the initial sentencing, Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg successfully argued for Donaldson to serve 30 years in prison with 20 suspended, and Thursday the prosecutor urged the panel of judges to uphold the sentence. Van Valkenburg also said he could ask for a longer sentence, but he wouldn’t.

On Friday, he praised the victim in the rape case for her testimony before the panel, as well as the comments of another woman who reported an incident where “Beau had attacked her and was grinding on her.” Van Valkenburg said witness testimony at such hearings is unusual, and the women’s arguments were “very compelling.”

“Both of them made amazing statements to the court in showing tremendous courage and concern for potential future victims,” Van Valkenburg said.

Van Valkenburg said Donaldson received a “reasoned and reasonable” sentence in District Court, and the defendant had agreed a sentence from the judge would be an appropriate dispensation of his case.

“So I don’t think he should really be complaining now about the fact that he didn’t get exactly what he wanted when he got what he plea bargained for,” Van Valkenburg said.

Anyone sentenced to prison in Montana has the right to ask for a review, Van Valkenburg said. The review panel is a division of the Montana Supreme Court made up of three District Court judges.

Typically, the panel upholds sentences, Van Valkenburg said. He estimated the judges affirm sentences 90 percent of the time, reduce them in 7 percent or 8 percent, and increase them in 1 percent or 2 percent of the cases.

Donaldson's lawyer, Milt Datsopoulos, was in flight Friday and could not be reached for comment, according to his assistant; a voicemail left on a number believed to be his cellphone was not returned by press time.

On Friday, neither his office nor the District Court could provide the legal brief requesting the sentence review; the County Attorney's Office directed requests for the brief to the District Court.

Reach Keila Szpaller at @keilaszpaller, at or at (406) 523-5262.

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

(17) Comments

  1. dave ajou
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    dave ajou - May 08, 2013 2:16 pm
    "They" ? Plural ? This guy is where he belongs. Go back where you belong. Don't let the rock crush you on the way down.
  2. wowreally
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    wowreally - May 07, 2013 3:45 pm
    ...And this is the EXACT reson that my daughters are taking lessons at American Kenpo Karate on Reserve St. I would almost feel sorry for any idot to try this with them, wait a minute.... NO I WOULDN'T. If you want their number, let me know...
  3. sweethomemt1
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    sweethomemt1 - May 05, 2013 7:10 am
    Brian Holm may have killed a man, but the victims in this might as well have been killed with what Beau did to them. (Very thankful that they weren't) He took away their sense of security and the way they live their life; God knows if they will ever get that back. He is such a low life, piece of trash. I feel so sorry for the people that are continually standing beside him and supporting him and trashing the victims. He has admitted guilt in the situation!! Realize what a horrible person he is and let him sit in jail. That is a very minor sentence compared to the ones that the victims are going through.
  4. Re-Made in Montana
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    Re-Made in Montana - May 04, 2013 6:48 pm
    Mmm, I don't think so. Brian Holm will probably never see the outside of a cell again.. Effectively a life sentence.
  5. us citizen
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    us citizen - May 04, 2013 6:35 pm
    this worthless piece of trash pleaded guilty to rape so he did it theres no way he deserves anything less than thirty years no suspended time throw the book at this trash and this attorney is a piece of trash also money means more than justice
  6. dsrobins
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    dsrobins - May 04, 2013 2:07 pm
    So typical of jocks at the U of M. They have no courage or integrity and cry for pity when finally incarcerated. Hope the review board turns him down flat.
  7. JMontana
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    JMontana - May 04, 2013 1:34 pm
    Unfortunately, they are probably in the right legally asking for a reduced sentence. This is without a doubt "extreme" compared to a normal rape conviction in MT. Likely has to do with preferential football player treatment everybody is always complaining about.... That being said, he deserves to spend every bit of his time sentenced to him, and not say a word because this horrible, horrible crime took something from this girl that she can never have back. Sorry Beau, nobody really cares what YOU want to have back right now and cannot.
  8. kwikdraw
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    kwikdraw - May 04, 2013 9:32 am
    Brian Holm KILLED a man and received a similar sentence. Something isn't right here.
  9. startingover
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    startingover - May 04, 2013 9:27 am
    marijuana is generally a misdemeanor, especially if it is only "a little", and is usually a deferred sentence.
  10. pl
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    pl - May 04, 2013 9:24 am
    Couldn't agree with you more, Montanamuralist. His victim gets no reprieve from what happened to her. Why should he? He thinks he should get a reprieve just because of his arroagnce...not because he deserves one. His sentence should be extended, not shortened. He can "rehab" while he is sitting in prison where there are no women he can rape. Women's rights not to be raped should always supersede a rapists' sentence being shortened.

    What is the point of sentencing someone to 30 years with 20 of it suspended????? I have only seen this kind of "justice" in Montana on all crimes!
  11. Alan Johnson
    Report Abuse
    Alan Johnson - May 04, 2013 9:04 am
    Also, for sexual offenders, parole isn't as routinely given as for other sentence. One requirement before applying for parole is to complete sexual offender treatment. Sometimes there is a waiting list just to get a spot. And once in, it's not a short course.
  12. Parkway
    Report Abuse
    Parkway - May 04, 2013 8:59 am
    As I've said before......victims of crime are being treated like criminals and the criminals are being treated like victims. Isn't it time we started holding people responsible for their actions?
    This kid sounds like he has some very serious problems. He committed a very serious offense and yet all he'll end up with is a wrist slap.
    I say lock him up about 15 years???? Or better yet let the young women he raped and terrorized decide his punishment.
    I like that idea....maybe they will choose that he be castrated.
    And T-Bone 7......I agree completely with your comment.
  13. Alan Johnson
    Report Abuse
    Alan Johnson - May 04, 2013 8:58 am
    Sentence Review is a normal part of the process. Reductions usually aren't granted unless the sentence is much greater than normal, or if the facts known to the judge at the time of sentencing don't support the sentence. I wouldn't read too much into this. Very few reductions are granted.
  14. jacksommersby88
    Report Abuse
    jacksommersby88 - May 04, 2013 8:14 am
    The nerve of this piece of human garbage. He lucked out with 20 years suspended, now he's whining about the lenient 10 years he was *very* lucky to have gotten. This guy has no intention of becoming a "better person" out of prison -- he's a conscience-deprived criminal who should serve the sentence he was given. And his victim is dead-on in that the emotional suffering she's burdened with for the rest of her life goes way beyond 10 years.
  15. montanamuralist
    Report Abuse
    montanamuralist - May 04, 2013 7:42 am
    If he serves the full sentence, which is not likely and could be half in my opinion for a violent crime ( most do not get parole the first time up), he will be in his early 30's when released and he can rehab himself then. You can not, no matter how drunk or what drug you are taking or what football team you belong to, attack women on your couch. Then chase them out of the house. Shut up and pay your debt assigned by the court rapist!
  16. old farmer
    Report Abuse
    old farmer - May 04, 2013 7:34 am
    Milt, Have you no shame.
  17. T-Bone7
    Report Abuse
    T-Bone7 - May 04, 2013 6:51 am
    He should feel lucky that he only got the 2 1/2 years. Jeez-oh-Pete. Good thing he didn't sell a little pot, he would've gotten life.
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