Ex-UM football player Donaldson sentenced to prison for rape

2013-01-12T06:30:00Z 2013-07-17T06:55:11Z Ex-UM football player Donaldson sentenced to prison for rapeBy GWEN FLORIO Missoulian The Billings Gazette
January 12, 2013 6:30 am  • 

MISSOULA — 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 they 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.”

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(17) Comments

  1. lefty the cowboy
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    lefty the cowboy - January 13, 2013 11:22 am
    I couldn't decipher it either, but, yeah, I think you have it. Thanks for the translation. ;o)
  2. csprmtn
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    csprmtn - January 13, 2013 8:14 am
    Why is it that they cry, now that they're going to prison? Cry-baby.....
  3. csprmtn
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    csprmtn - January 13, 2013 8:12 am
    Seriously doubt he coud make the checkers team!
  4. Banksy
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    Banksy - January 12, 2013 9:18 pm
    2.5 years? That's a harsh punishment.
  5. Howard Wilkinson
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    Howard Wilkinson - January 12, 2013 8:03 pm
    Hopefully this is NOT the end of the story. I don't agree with the suggestion that somehow the sport of football has any direct connection to this string of rapes, but there is a pack mentality that can and often does develop that makes people really believe that they can get away with anything. There is still the issue of the gang rape of the unconscious girl that incidentally also involved UM football players to be dealt with. Rape is not just a crime in our society.... it's a tradition!
  6. Report Abuse
    - January 12, 2013 7:35 pm
    I imagine he could handle himself just fine in population.
  7. KingRichard
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    KingRichard - January 12, 2013 7:04 pm
    I have no problem with him serving just 2 1/2 years...as long as it's 2 1/2 with the general prison population ;-)
  8. perknut59102
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    perknut59102 - January 12, 2013 3:40 pm
    I read only two mentions of football, when discribing his former status and the headline. To what are you referring?
  9. weezy
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    weezy - January 12, 2013 3:29 pm
    Whatever happened to all the other rape cases involving UM football players? It seems like Beau took the fall for the entire scandal.
  10. RightDog
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    RightDog - January 12, 2013 3:20 pm
    Well said.

    Don't pay Bovee much thought. He couldn't make the chess team so he is a bit bent at anyone that played sports in high school and college.
  11. RightDog
    Report Abuse
    RightDog - January 12, 2013 3:15 pm
    I need my magic Bovee decoder ring. I think he is trying to say that because he uses his name he would pick a fight with someone for telling him he is a moron.
  12. Dave Bovee
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    Dave Bovee - January 12, 2013 2:19 pm
    And what do you say about people who address someone else on a comment line but don't have the spine to use their own identity? You are not the usual football fan because they're bigoted, intolerant and filled with hate for anyone that does not share their group violence perversion.
  13. down payment blues
    Report Abuse
    down payment blues - January 12, 2013 10:30 am
    DB - there are plenty of bright people who play football. It is violent. I could argue anyone who thinks enough of their opinion to post it to a comment board is self-centered. We all have HGH in our bodies. Plenty of steroids in all sports. It was Beau Donaldson at fault, not football. It didn't happen at Washington-Grizzly stadium. He wasn't on scholarship for his raping prowess. I've never run across a Rape 1 or Rape 2 coverage scheme. This is on Beau, not football. You are a smart guy who often makes a lot of sense, and its fine you aren't a football fan. Lay the blame where it deserves to be.
  14. Dave Bovee
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    Dave Bovee - January 12, 2013 9:53 am
    Football means brainless, violent, selfcentered HGH and steroids freaks so yes, vack, it's footballs fault.
  15. KowgirlKaitlynn
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    KowgirlKaitlynn - January 12, 2013 8:43 am
    Yeah, if you rape someone in Missoula, it is a serious crime, and will be dealt with as such. In this case, it means he will be given a 30 year sentence, and then have 66% of it suspended, and be eligible for parole after just serving 8.3% of the original sentence. I agree with the victim when she says the rapist deserves to be raped every day until he understands the pain, but the judge should also have to go through the same. THIS SENTENCE IS A SERIOUSLY DISRESPECTFUL JOKE.
  16. VCSORD1
    Report Abuse
    VCSORD1 - January 12, 2013 7:08 am
    Maybe Beau will learn there are consequences to your actions. Will he learn it in 2 1/2 years? Possibly. I think this kid had been adorized and coddled for so many years that he felt that he could do anything. Guess again.
  17. vack
    Report Abuse
    vack - January 12, 2013 6:59 am
    There are a lot of things wrong with the situation leading up to the assault. The next thing I dont like about this story is the constant reference to the guy's involvement with football and it infers that he is like he is because of his involvement with football. Quit mentioning "football" and the story will be better.

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