Minnesota Supreme Court Says Victims of Rape Not 'Incapacitated' if Voluntarily Intoxicated
The Minnesota Supreme Court issued a decision Wednesday stating that a person who is sexually assaulted while intoxicated isn't considered "mentally incapacitated" if the person consumed alcohol or drugs voluntarily.
The Minnesota Supreme Court issued a decision Wednesday that a person who is sexually assaulted while intoxicated isn't considered "mentally incapacitated" if the person consumed alcohol or drugs voluntarily.
Due to the court's decision, which was unanimous, a 2017 case now has the chance to be granted a new trial in court. According to court documents, Francois Momulu Khalil was convicted of third-degree sexual assault after he brought a woman to his north Minneapolis home and allegedly raped her on May 13, 2017.
The woman was refused entry to a Dinkytown bar for being too intoxicated, according to the court's opinion. The complaint states Khalil had offered to take her to a party but instead brought her to his residence.
The case led to a jury finding Khalil guilty of third-degree sexual assault due to the woman being ruled as "mentally incapacitated." The woman met Khalil after she was refused entry to a bar because she was too intoxicated, according to the court documents.
In a unanimous decision written by Justice Paul Thissen, the state Supreme Court said the lower court's definition of "mentally incapacitated" in this case "unreasonably strains and stretches the plain text of the statute" because the victim was drunk before she met her attacker."
To meet the definition, the alcohol must be administered to the person under its influence without that person's agreement, the high court ruled.
Some are worried about the ruling's ramifications. Democratic state Rep. Kelly Moller said it shows the urgent need to update the state's criminal sexual conduct statute, including by closing what she calls the intoxication loophole. She has introduced a bill to amend the statute.
"Victims who are intoxicated to the degree that they are unable to give consent are entitled to justice," Moller said. "Minnesotans who experience unthinkable trauma deserve to see the Legislature take action on this immediately."
A footnote in the opinion states that "nearly half of all women in the United States have been the victim of sexual violence in their lifetime - including an estimated 10 million women who have been raped while under the influence of alcohol or drugs."
The justices granted a new trial for Khalil. His attorney declined to comment on the decision.
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