Why The LifeGuard Group’s Live Action Role Play (LARP) Is A Force You Don’t Want To Mess With

by Travis Mateer

Karl Rove understood that make-believe, infused with unchecked political power, could create realities that the little people just had to adjust to. If the little people got wise, the fix was simple: just create another reality.

What I’m about to tell you is extensively documented, but you won’t be seeing any links. This is as close to primary sourcing without BEING the source a journalist can get. And it puts proof to the fiction that Montana is capable of keeping people safe from sexual violence, here in Missoula or anywhere around the state.

Rape culture is the lifeblood of Zoom Town. There’s no point denying it anymore. Ten years after Jon Krakauer’s book, everyone behind the scenes knows only the optics have changed. I am deeply appreciative of the illustrative example the LifeGuard Group has unwittingly provided toward my own understanding of this reality, so I can educate my little ones appropriately.

One aspect revealed by my look into the LifeGuard Group is how many organizations WILL NOT refer their clients to their “services”. I’ve spoken with people from non-profits, anti-trafficking organizations, and the University of Montana’s Social Work Department, and the sentiment has been the same everywhere I turn: this organization has NO credibility when it comes to meeting their mission of helping victims of human trafficking.

So what DO they have? 

They have the financial backing, thus political cover, of Greg Gianforte, Montana’s Governor, for one. And they have the backing of a religious/law-enforcement/business nexus, for another. There’s also some family connection to a foundation that further insulates them from accountability, but I’ve been told to steer clear of that aspect of this group’s support.

It’s been jaw-dropping to slowly understand how a sexual predator with TWO victims is being protected by the entire criminal justice system in Missoula because acknowledging who he hurt, and HOW he targeted his victims, would topple the house of cards constructed by Lowell Hochhalter, the chaplain for the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office and President of the LifeGuard Group.

Yes, it definitely wouldn’t look good for Lowell, or the people who enable him, if it was known that his group employed an alleged rapist who claimed connections to a drug cartel. And it would look even MORE terrible if the church, where the alleged perpetrator attended services, had a pastor who is ALSO the board president of the LifeGuard Group.

Over a decade ago, the manner in which rapes were processed by the criminal justice system led to a book by Jon Krakauer. When you revisit this book, like I did, you will see one of the LifeGuard Group’s main enablers, Detective Guy Baker, play a starring role in bringing a UM football player to justice. But how did this report of sexual assault actually happen? It happened because the victim, Allison Huguet, had a previous “relationship” of sorts with Detective Baker from her time working on a high school research project with the Missoula police department.

Here is an excerpt from Krakauer’s book describing this relationship:

“Hey,” Baker said to Allison in a warmer voice when they’d moved a short distance away. They’d become acquainted four years earlier, during her final year of high school, when she asked him to serve as her mentor for a school project. It had been a positive experience for both of them. Explaining why he’s shown up during the company Christmas party, he said, “I thought it was important to tell you in person as soon as possible: About an hour ago I arrested Beau Donaldson. I got a full confession from him, and he’s in jail.”

When you read Krakauer’s book, Detective Baker comes off as some kind of hero. But everyone I have spoken with in Missoula (and one former cop who lives in Mineral County) has said the EXACT opposite. I have yet to find anyone with a positive story about this man, a man who keeps popping up in places where Lowell Hochhalter is seeking the limelight, like the Jermain Charlo missing person case (which launched a popular podcast series called Stolen), and the Chamber of Commerce banquet, which featured the LifeGuard Group last September.

Before that banquet, a certain Executive Director of United Way was specifically apprised of the situation with the LifeGuard Group, since a friend is one of the victims. The letter I’m going to publish today was given to this Executive Director, along with other specific details about the situation (which I’ll be withholding due to ongoing threats involved with this case).

What did this influencer do with the information? Well, she said she was going to do something about it, and then she didn’t. Instead my close relationship to this case became her focus. This is where those defamatory claims about ME enters into the picture, but I’m not Lowell Hochhalter, despite a direct comparison being made about my role in trying to understand what’s happening (or NOT happening) here in Missoula County.

The NOT happening in this case is one of the things that is most shocking and disgusting, especially when you consider the recent history exemplified by Krakauer’s book. It’s bad enough that the Missoula County Attorney’s Office chose NOT to charge the man who allegedly assaulted TWO women, but to add systemic insult to actual injury, it took OVER A YEAR for one of the victims to find out her alleged perpetrator was NOT EVEN INTERVIEWED about the assault!

How could this be? How could this alleged rapist, who was apparently dangerous enough for the church where he attended to make the extreme move of trespassing him from their property, not even be interviewed? If the Attorney General’s office was capable of doing what Austin Knudsen likes to claim his office does, that question would be directed at Detectives within the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office. 

Maybe all the Sheriff’s Office had to do was chat with their Chaplain, Lowell Hochhalter, and maybe this Christian man explained how sometimes cartel-connected excrement, through GOD’S GLORY, can articulate a nice sounding story of redemption, and THAT is what has value, not the consequences of lacking discernment to do the ONE THING the LifeGuard Group thinks it can do successfully, and that’s help victims of human trafficking escape and recover from sexual abuse.

Yes, it would be very, VERY inconvenient for high-level political players, like Governors and Attorney Generals, if Missoula was proven to contain enough gullible Christians operating a fake savior network that values testimonials as a form of spiritual currency over the safety of their own congregations, creating a vulnerability that can’t even be talked about when a predator exposes the dangerous lack of discernment among local Christian/Cop collaborators.

A lack of discernment and/or bias among these alleged Christians AND the dispensers of criminal justice is my generous interpretation of what I’ve seen, and come to understand, about how Missoula County is handling sexual assault cases, post-Krakauer. There are other, much darker interpretations I’ll avoid (for now).

In Krakauer’s story, the Allison who opens up the narrative has an “in” with the police department, and this “in” helps her make the incredibly difficult decision to report. The pre-Krakauer media attention helped raise the alarm about what was happening (or, again, NOT happening) within the criminal justice system, and we, as a community, were assured changes would be made. But have they?

Below is the letter, written and sent to the board of the LifeGuard Group on May 2nd of last year, by an incredibly courageous woman who thought she knew what she was going to face after reporting, since she once worked within the criminal justice system, but no one can be prepared for what happens when you threaten to expose how Governor-blessed Christian warriors LARP as saviors while paying a wolf to build the fence around the chicken coop.

On this first day of 2023, I’d like Zoom Chron readers to think about what Missoula has learned in the DECADE of time that has elapsed since national scrutiny descended on our town, then get ready for it to happen again, because it’s much worse than I can articulate in just one little post about two cases and one incredibly dangerous decision to let politics trump community safety.

Here is a screenshot of the the letter with some portions redacted. There will be more context to come on this issue, so stay tuned!

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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1 Response to Why The LifeGuard Group’s Live Action Role Play (LARP) Is A Force You Don’t Want To Mess With

  1. Pingback: Is Breaking “Confidential Criminal Justice Information” (CCJI) A Necessary Part Of Breaking Their Narrative Control? | Zoom Chron Blog

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