By Billie Loewen
Weeks after the Feb. 4 incident, Diane Barz, the former state Supreme Court Justice hired by UM to investigate sexual assault cases, released the report with her findings. In that report, Barz said she saw a need for students to place “some acceptable social boundaries on casual sex.” Barz said she identified nine incidents of sexual assault that required follow-up, but following her investigation three more women reported being sexually assaulted on or near campus.
University of Montana President Royce Engstrom said in March that five of the individuals are no longer students at the University, although it is not clear if they have been expelled, transferred, graduated or dropped out. It was also in March that Johnson’s accuser filed a restraining order against him. The accuser testified during the trial that it was around this time that her family met with school officials. On March 29, 2012, Engstrom told former athletic director Jim O’Day and former head coach Robin Pflugrad that UM would not renew their contracts, citing the need for a “change in leadership.”
Johnson’s case has since gained a lot of attention in the media as it takes place during three ongoing investigations by the Justice Department, Department of Education and the NCAA into the University of Montana.
Johnson’s charges overlapped with the sentencing of Beau Donaldson, a former Griz football player who pleaded guilty to rape and was sentenced in January to 30 years in prison with 20 suspended.
Johnson’s trial lasted more than three weeks, and during that time both the prosecution and defense used texts, Tweets, and Facebook messages as the primary evidence. News organizations live Tweeted the daily play-by-play inside the courtroom, potentially introducing a new technological standard in high-profile court cases.
Expert witnesses on both sides deemed the limited physical evidence inconclusive and the case was said to be a classic “he-said, she-said.”
A jury of seven women and five men acquitted Johnson on Friday, March 1, 2013. He will be taking part in football drills again this spring.