Minnesota May Tighten Law on Rape, Drinking and Consent

After a scathing report on the state’s widespread failures in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults, a task force is expected to recommend bringing state law in line with other states that plainly outlaw intercourse with a person too drunk to consent.

A task force on sexual assault is discussing changes to Minnesota’s laws on alcohol and consent that could have far-reaching implications for rape victims, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The changes could make it easier for prosecutors to win convictions in sexual assault cases by showing that a victim was too drunk to consent to sex, now considered a significant barrier to prosecuting rapists. Many sexual assaults involve drinking, and officers and prosecutors consider them the toughest cases. Under current Minnesota law, suspects can claim that sex was consensual unless the victim was “physically helpless” and the perpetrator knew it. The laws in a handful of other states make that defense harder by outlawing intercourse with a person who is too intoxicated to consent.

Such revisions, currently at the brainstorming stage, will likely be among a set of final recommendations sent to the 2019 Legislature by the task force. The work group was created by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson after the Star Tribune began publishing “Denied Justice,” an investigative series that documented widespread failures in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults in Minnesota. The goal is a final report for the Legislature when it convenes Jan. 8 and newly elected Attorney General Keith Ellison takes office.

from https://thecrimereport.org