Laws typically get many tweaks as they make their way from the ground floor all the way up to the Governor’s desk, but that doesn’t mean they are immune from alterations the moment they are signed into law. Many laws become outdated and need adjustments, and that’s the case with a number of sexual assault laws in Minnesota. Legislators are seeking to close some loopholes or strengthen some protects under the laws, and those changes are the focus of today’s blog.
Sexual Assault Law Updates
Here’s a look at four specific areas of sexual assault law that are being updated to better protect potential victims and prevent crimes in the first place.
Teachers and Students
Under the current law, it is illegal for teachers, administrators and school faculty to have sex with any student under the age of 18. However, it’s technically legal for them to have sexual relations if the student consents and is over the age of 18. Lawmakers have put forth a proposal that would make it illegal for school staff to have sexual contact with any students, regardless of their age.
Police and Suspects
Psychotherapists cannot have sex with their patients, and jail staff cannot have sex with inmates, but currently under Minnesota law, police are technically allowed to have sex with someone in their custody, even if the person is in handcuffs, so long as the other party consents. Clearly this is an issue. Under another proposal, police and peace officers would be banned from having sexual contact of any kind with anyone they restrain or anyone who “does not reasonably feel free to leave the officer’s presence.”
We talked about the martial rape defense on the blog in the past, but the changes ended up failing on a previous bill that got lumped together with a bunch of other proposals. Currently, a person accused of raping their spouse could claim that it wasn’t rape because the person in question was their spouse. It’s not a crime or a defense that is heard of often, but it’s technically still on the books in Minnesota. A one-sentence bill has been proposed that would remove that problematic statute.
Finally, lawmakers also want to update an exception surrounding the state’s anti-groping law. An exception in the law states that “the intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks” does not meet the definition of groping. Although its origin is unclear, lawmakers believe the exception may have been put in there to prevent football coaches from being prosecuted for giving their players an encouraging slap on the backside during a game. However, since this action is not done in a sexual nature, it couldn’t be prosecuted as sexual assault. Whatever the original reason, lawmakers have proposed removing the exception from the statute.