Few MN Rape Prosecutions in Cases Involving Alcohol

Minnesota women’s already slight chance of getting justice in rape cases plummets if they were drinking, finds an analysis by the Minneapolis Star Tribune

It’s a stark reality faced by many Minnesota women who report being raped: Their already slight chance of getting justice plummets if they were drinking, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune in the third of a series. Police are less likely to interview witnesses, assign cases to a detective or forward them to a prosecutor for possible criminal charges, found the newspaper’s analysis of more than 1,000 sexual assault cases from 2015 and 2016. When cases involving alcohol do reach prosecutors, suspects are much less likely to be charged with a crime or convicted. When a victim is sober, prosecutors charge about 15 percent of the sex assaults. When a victim is intoxicated, that rate drops to 8 percent.

In cases where the victim was drinking, only 1 in 20 sex assaults resulted in a conviction — about half the overall conviction rate for sex assaults. “That’s just unacceptable,” said Rep. Marion O’Neill, a member of the Minnesota House Public Safety Committee, who added that rapists may be “getting a free pass, and I want to know why.” Minnesota’s laws on drinking and consent may be partly to blame, prosecutors say. Suspects can claim the sex was consensual unless the victim was “physically helpless” and the perpetrator knew it. A bigger reason may be attitudes and beliefs among law enforcement and society that make it easier to doubt the credibility of victims. “I have not ever met a cop who said, ‘I don’t care about sexual assault or sexual violence,’” said Inver Grove Heights Police Chief Paul Schnell. “The problem becomes all the filters that get applied to that.”

from https://thecrimereport.org