It's time for our justice system to hold abusers accountable

It's time for our justice system to hold abusers accountable

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Billee Reis started this petition to Montana Supreme Court, Montana District Court, Flathead County Court and

My daughter was abused by her birth after fighting for years in the Flathead County Court system to protect her. She was 5.  The case was substantiated by CPS. All parties involved in the investigation and aftercare have no question it happened.  They have even showed up at court to advocate for her. Even before this her abuser had five Orders of Protection against  (one including my daughter), plus an extensive criminal history. You think she would get justice, but no. Now he is trying to get access to her again. The judge on our case just made an order to release the evidence to her abuser (at the abusers request) which can make it harder to get charges and her abuser will to try use this knowledge to help get access to her. What about my daughters right to privacy? Why do you release evidence to an abuser especially when we are still pursuing criminal charges?  We are pursuing all legal options for justice even if it means going all the way to the Montana Supreme Court and the judge has been notified of our ongoing efforts.  In light of this, why isn't he keeping the evidence protected?

I mentioned the lack of prosecution I'm seeing more and more to someone who specializes in working with children who've been abused. They said they are pretty sure none of the cases they've worked with have ever been convicted. Then of course I hear that many who work with child abuse cases see the same disappointing and disheartening outcome.  Are you kidding me? CPS says he'd have to abuse her again to lose his rights, again!  My first talk with the county attorney on our case she said, "Even if we know without a doubt this has happened . . . it can be hard to prosecute because of her age".  And here's the real kicker.  . . in all my research I spoke with someone in a similar situation who said the district attorney at the time (not our current one) as well as another official who specializes in working these cases said it's their "protocol" to not charge them. What?! Yeah, you read that right. So what you are saying is there is no justice for abuse victims? That Orders of Protection are worthless, and you definitely cannot count on the justice system for justice. Let's not overlook the dangerous impact on our community as a whole, as well as the victims. If abuse is not being taken seriously it is an alarming problem for the entire community. 

I have called CPS, advocates, victims, family court services, spoke with counselors, even Emily Mohlers mom tonight and ALL have an underlying theme.

Emily Mohler had an order of protection. She reported that her ex choked her and said he was going to kill her. There wasn't even a follow up call from law enforcement to ask questions, let alone an arrest. I believe if the threat was taken seriously Emily, her daughter, and friend would still be alive. When I reported multiple violations of the Order of Protection with my childs  I was spoken down to by the county attorneys office (on many occasions) and eventually I was told in the most demeaning manner, "They weren't going to charge it here!". I was handed off to a female supervisor to get rid of me.  At least that is who they said she was. I won't even get started on the call avoidance. I thought it was just me. Maybe I did something to upset them. Then I talked to other victims and realized it wasn't just me because that's what we all experienced. It's hard to speak up when people in authority are involved. I think they count on that. I don't know what retaliation I could face but I don't see any other options. My daughters safety comes first, even if at my expense. I've tried for over 4 weeks to get a meeting leaving messages, voicemails, emailing, etc. When I finally got one I was talked down to and treated like a problem. My first case with my ex I rarely got a call back and when I did he seemed annoyed.  Imagine suffering from PTSD, looking to the justice system for justice and never finding it. Even when the trial date was changed, plead down, and he was released in our town . . .  I was never notified. I found out after the fact and I initiated the inquiry. His response, "I told my assistant to tell you". 

In my daughters case after waiting over a year, I called for weeks just wanting to understand how this couldn't be charged. Even though my faith in the justice system was running on fumes I still wanted to believe the people in charge of protecting my daughter would do their job. The prosecuting attorney stated how she was six weeks out, 30 cases, etc. If that's the case, we need more prosecuting attorneys. Even then, we need prosecutors who care. Oh, and from my understanding the prosecutor from the first case with my ex, handed off my daughters case to a prosecutor who is known for having a reputation that is harder to get charges with. Let that sink in. 

She kept giving me excuses until I mentioned my lawyer. Her response, "Oh, you're gonna bring a lawyer into this!". She was not happy. She gave us a limited time slot in less than twenty four hours. I believe part of why she did that was hoping we wouldn't make it, others do to. Luckily my lawyer is amazing. I was prepped and looking forward to getting answers. I received legal advice on the questions to ask and my approach. She repeatedly refused to answer my questions, I got the same excuses about my daughters age, and was talked down to. When I mentioned there seemed to be a "bias" towards child abuse cases they did not like it at all. I don't think they expected me to actually state my observation. Imagine that, a mom trying to advocate for her daughter being treated like the problem.  The problem is the abuser, and the victims or advocates for victims should be supported.  There can be challenges but does that make it ok to never have it go before a jury and instead make it a unsaid "protocol". Why are you here? Do you realize the magnitude of the decisions you make every day. My daughter needs you. If your case load is too big, let's do what we can to add more prosecutors. With all the millions we put into local projects I'm sure we can find a salaries for more prosecutors.

Either way progress should never come at the expense of our community. 

I asked a local advocate that works with abuse victims full time how many times they've seen an order of protection enforced in the last year. They said, "maybe once". A years worth of working with victims full time and only once?!  I've spoken with officers and detectives who are frustrated with abuse cases not being handled after working so hard to do their part for justice and bring abusers in. CPS workers that are frustrated that their current system is reactive in stead of proactive, people in the court system, and more. So many people are working to protect victims only to see abusers not charged and little to nothing done about abuse.  I have much respect for their tireless efforts and am very grateful for them and all they do.  

I have yet to see justice in our justice system.  So many of us are discouraged and disheartened.  We are worried for ourselves, our loved ones, and community.  In the countless time I reached out throughout the state I heard over and over Flathead County has a well know reputation for not handling abuse cases like they should. This sentiment has come from people in positions of influence in the justice system and many others in and beyond our community. From what I've seen and experienced they try to sweep you under the rug or not deal with it because it's "too hard", uncomfortable, or an inconvenience.  

I know you are out there, victims with similar stories. Change is not an option, it is a necessity.  Whether it starts from the outside or within but I hope we can all work together. Many of these positions are elected. Let them hear our voice! Stop the abuse! Stop abusers!

I'm hoping that we can work as a community (including judges and attorneys) to find a resolution that puts our community first. 

Abuse should never be normalized. 

Newspaper articles, protests, sharing of victims stories, experiences, etc. are in the works. 

Please sign and share, share, share.  We need to make sure our victims are getting justice and hopefully in being proactive we can avoid further tragedies before they happen. I'm advocating for my daughters safety but this petition is also for all who are affected by abuse and to hopefully see a safer future for our community. 

I will keep you updated on all relevant happenings in regards to the case. 


Also, if you are experiencing a similar story or have, feel free to reach out to me. We are in this together. 





247 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!