The Minnesota Supreme Court earlier this week made a controversial ruling on a case involving a convicted rapist, ordering a new trial on the grounds that the woman involved in the incident voluntarily intoxicated herself prior to the sexual encounter.
Francois Khalil was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim who was impaired in 2019, stemming from an incident in 2017. The woman involved in the case said the two had been partying when she blacked out, and woke up to Khalil raping her. He was sentenced to five years in prison by a jury in Hennepin County.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that “the state’s legal definition of ‘mentally incapacitated’ only applies if a victim was given drugs or alcohol against their will — not if they consumed the substances voluntarily.”
A mentally incapacitated person cannot consent to sex, but the language of the law as applied by the Court creates something of a loophole, allowing a victim who would normally be considered incapacitated to give consent.
Justice Paul Thissen of the Minnesota Supreme Court said the Court was simply applying the law as written, and “we apply that meaning and not what we may wish the law was or what we think the law should be.” He also passed the buck to the Minnesota Legislature, saying they are “institutionally better positioned than courts” to make public policy, and pointed to efforts to overhaul the criminal sexual conduct statute.”
To that end, Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL-MN-42A) said that she is pursuing legislation that would ensure that anyone who is intoxicated – voluntarily or not – is not able to consent.
“This is something that will make a difference for those who do come forward and have these sets of circumstances, that their cases will at least be chargeable,” she reportedly said.
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