Missoula County and the University of Montana teamed up recently to apply for a grant to build a new sexual assault program and to fund a position on campus designed to bridge departments dealing with rape and other crimes.

Kim Brown Campbell, a coordinator with Missoula County’s Office of Planning and Grants, said the funding, around $300,000, would be good for three years.

The grant would fund a variety of efforts aimed at improving education and response to sexual assault at UM and across the Missoula community.

“We’ll hear about that grant any day now,” Brown Campbell said Tuesday. “We’re hoping we’ll get it.”

In applying for the grant, Missoula County teamed up with UM and its Office of the Provost, Counselor Education and Social Work departments, and the women and gender studies program.

A portion of the funds would be used to build an online program to train students and university faculty members on sexual assault, from understanding victimization, to proper behavior, to how to speak up if a friend is in danger.

Brown Campbell said the grant also would fund a new position in the Office of Student Affairs. The employee would help advise sexual assault projects across campus and the greater Missoula community.

“It really would create a new position, somebody who’d be a liaison between departments and work closely with the Student Assault Resource Center on campus,” she said. “A lot of these things will happen even if we don’t get the grant, but the federal money would help.”

The grant application is part of a larger community effort to educate and curb date rape, domestic violence and sexual assault.

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This week, an earlier grant awarded by the Department of Justice and the Office of Violence Against Women brought a team of Oregon experts to Missoula to train law enforcement, trauma nurses and resource advisers on sexual assault.

On Tuesday, conference attendees from across western Montana and Billings turned their focus from the victims of sexual assault to the perpetrators.

A study cited at the conference found that 92 percent of sex offenders know their victims and 71 percent commit multiple rapes.

“What that says to me is that each rape report we get, each shot at an offender we get, is a shot at someone who has had multiple victims,” said Lt. Pat Moore of the Roseburg (Ore.) Criminal Investigations Division. “Offenders who get reported the first time out, investigated and caught the first time out, are very rare.”

The same statistics found that 83 percent of offenders use a substance to facilitate their assault, while 27 percent use force. An FBI study also found that nearly 61 percent of rapists premeditate their assault.

Brown Campbell said that both grants were applied for before accusations of sexual assault involving UM students brought the subject fully into the public dialogue.

“It’s unfortunate that scary things beget these good things that are happening for prevention,” Brown Campbell said. “But it’s good that people are responding in positive ways and trying to make it better for our victims and raising awareness.”

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260 or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.

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