The Battle Over School Board Seats Is Already Garnering Controversy, But Not For Reasons The Montana Human Rights Network Will Appreciate

by Travis Mateer

On December 9th, filing for open school board seats began in Missoula, meaning the battle to control the trajectory of public education has just kicked off. This will be a busy election cycle for the Montana Human Rights Network as they do their best to depict any and all critics as right-wing extremists, literally begging local media to follow suit:

Well, the controversy that has erupted in local headlines has NOTHING to do with the kind of political targets MHRN is salivating over exposing. Instead it’s an alleged sexual predator by the name of Nevin Graves, who withdrew his name from school board consideration just six days after filing. Here’s how the Missoulian is reporting this scandal:

Nevin Graves withdrew from the upcoming school board election six days after filing, following allegations of abuse.

A Milltown resident announced that they are withdrawing their candidacy to serve as a Missoula County School Board trustee just six days after filing, following allegations of rape and violence.

“I had the support of people I trust and admire, and I announced with hope and excitement for the chance to serve my community,” Graves wrote in a statement on Monday regarding their withdrawal.

Graves’ accuser, Everett Johns, went to social media to raise the alarm after the criminal justice system failed to protect Johns from years ago. Here are some of the allegations Johns is making:

If true, Nevin Graves should have been charged and prosecuted years ago, but “they” avoided accountability for grooming and sexually exploiting a minor. Why?

Sadly, this controversy will only reinforce the paranoia growing on the right that children are being targeted and sexually groomed by activist teachers and educators in public school settings. In the case of this eager School Board candidate, I’d say that paranoia is more than justified.

Thanks for reading.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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5 Responses to The Battle Over School Board Seats Is Already Garnering Controversy, But Not For Reasons The Montana Human Rights Network Will Appreciate

  1. TC says:

    Very interesting. Seems to have some echo of our recent mayoral race where a candidate was accused of sexual abuse primarily via social media. When processed through actual legal recourse the mayoral candidate was found not guilty. Perhaps he was/perhaps he wasnt but its still unsettling that cases can be functionally adjudicated by Facebook.
    This situation seems similar in that claims are made via social media and reportedly a case has been filed with Law Enforcement (but again with no action). So where do things stand – guilty per Facebook or innocent per our legal system? As society moves forward it would do well to align these; can’t have diametrically opposed claims carrying equal weight.
    Couple other interesting aspects: person making claims was heavily involved with the UM purge of law school leadership (largely due to claims of inaction regarding a former mayoral candidate). So is this person empowered to seek out and expose injustice/abuse (that would be good)? Or is this some sort of agenda (as per Montana Rights Network) that looks for a small transgression then conflates it, takes it out if context and weaponizes it (that would be bad)?
    Finally, what is the “they” aspect of this story? It would seem that the accused began as a biological male and is depicted in the Missoulian picture as a biological male. So why the “they”? Is he transitioning now? Did he once and then switched back? I will say that had he wanted to run for office in Missoula, a “they” designation would be an outstanding political move and would have guaranteed votes.
    There is a lot to unpack in this story and just like our mayoral race more will likely be unveiled over time. Sometimes Missoula feels like a cheaply produced Netflix series. In the end,however, rest assured, the election has already been decided.
    Thanks for reporting (yet again). Very interesting indeed!

    • A cheaply produced Netflix series indeed!

      I put in a call to Ravalli County Sheriff’s Dept, so we’ll see if I get a response. There is definitely a lot to unpack here, and more will be coming out, for sure.

  2. J. Kevin Hunt says:

    TC, you very well enumerate numerous facets of this bugaboo. I will say that the Missoulian story was virtually incomprehensible in places due to use of “they/their/them” creating ambiguities. There really needs to be coinage of a singular personal pronoun set for those who do not identify in a gender binary manner. When the feminist movement was on fire, the title “Ms.” was coined to deal with the sexist use of “Miss” and “Mrs.” Why can’t a new singular personal pronoun set be coined? Regardless of what defenders of “they/their/them” as a gender-neutral singular personal pronoun set say, it often renders language misleading or unclear.

    On the Graves/Johns matter, there are so many aspects to this. For instance, how many high school frosh girls aged 15 are pursued by juniors and seniors who groom, seduce and “morally corrupt” them? It’s occurring all the time. My guess is that, except in cases of actual coercion or force, such incidents are rarely criminally prosecuted in Montana. I’m not suggesting that’s good or bad, though absent actual coercion or force, I submit that not prosecuting is often if not usually, going to represent the most reasonable decision. Each case is different and has many factors
    militating for or against prosecution.

    It’s certainly not unusual for upperclassman males to pursue and date underclassman females, and not unusual for said females to feel pride, sophistication and a sense of one-up-ship in relation to their female peers, from dating an upper class male. This is (rightly) less common in these more enlightened times than when I was in high school, but it’s still a phenomenon, even though it derives from a patriarchal, sexist gestalt. Here we have allegations by (apparently) a biological male, against a former classmate there years older, who was also (apparently) born a biological male. This evokes visceral reactions in many people who would be far less uptight were it a technically unlawful heterosexual intimate relationship.

    That the accused was a school board candidate under this scenario, increases the salaciousness with which people view the episode. There is a widespread and false belief among many heterosexuals that gay, bisexual and trans adults are predatory practitioners of pedophilia and hebephilia.

    Next comes the twist, that is, the accuser here having been an organizer of a UM law school walkout in protest of UM administration’s purported lack of diligence in investigating sexual aggression on campus, in particular allegations of sexual misconduct made against a mayoral candidate who is a UM law student. Still weirder is that as Montana Human Rights Network urges news media to “make the connection” between a school board candidate and right wing militias, so did you, Travis, write a few months ago about your attempt to get a local young female Democratic Party board member to provide you with the basis for her posted claim that the same mayoral candidate was supported by right-wing militia groups. You wrote that after pressing that person
    to produce her source for the allegation, she eventually named MHRN (where she was an intern). You later wrote that MHRN denied making the claim of WR militia support for the mayoral candidate. My comments on that blog post, in which I suggested that you perhaps were making too much of a mistake of youth by the Democratic activist, offended that person, who ignited a vicious smear campaign against me in which she, and a clique of misandrists also a give in the Missoula Democrats, trolled me and emailed groups whose endorsement I sought in my city council campaign, falsely accusing me of being a homophobe. It had the intended effect of turning various elites against me, robbing me of endorsements. Among those on the bandwagon against my endorsement was your favorite target among Democratic Party politicians, Ellie Borman.

    BTW, you might be interested to know that the defamation and vile social media vilification I endured, is now being directed against Democrat Tom Winter, who recently declared for the new MT Congressional seat. The young woman who was offended by my comments in her defense to one of your blog posts, is not part of this new verbal progrom, but other veterans of the smear campaign against me are front and center, led by my most vocal hater (whom I’ve never met), Bridget (surname omitted), who during the Missoula Democrats’ roll call vote on my endorsement voted by screaming “HELL NO!”. A few days ago, Bridget posted on Facebook, to the approval of her clique of misandrists (in addition to personal attacks on Winter), that the “last thing needed” was “a penis in the race” or “another cis” person. This, because three Democrat women had previously declared for the new seat. I sarcastically commented that I was certain that this vocal hate speech against cis people and those with penises would go a long way to ensuring victory by one of the three female contenders. I can only imagine those there’s horror upon learning of this shit. Sue Orr and Erin O’Doherty were delighted by Bridget’s hate speech. I don’t know if Tom Winter is aware of it, but I’ll be alerting him to it.

    Funny, how the same names keep popping up, and funnier how we share mutual disdain for their antics despite us having disparate ideologies in many respects.

  3. I wish I was able to edit my comments when I fault to correct all typos prior to submission..

  4. Ha ha there’s another one!

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