The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a person can’t be found guilty of sexually assaulting someone who is intoxicated if that person willingly ingested drugs or alcohol.
The ruling was released Wednesday after the case of Francois Monulu Khalil, who was convicted of a third-degree criminal sexual misconduct by a jury because the victim was drunk and mentally incapacitated. Khalil, a Minneapolis man, met his victim after she was denied entry to a bar for being too intoxicated.
The court’s unanimous decision was written by Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Pail Thissen. Thissen writes that the lower court’s definition of mentally incapacitated regarding the case “unreasonably strains and stretches the plain text of the statue” since the victim was intoxicated before she met Khalil, her attacker.
In order to be considered mentally incapacitated under Michigan law, the alcohol must be given to the person without that person’s agreement, according to the court. Because the original case did not meet the standard for a victim to be mentally incapacitated, the state’s high court granted a new trial for Khalil.
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Many are concerned about the consequences of this ruling, including Kelly Moller, a Democratic state representative for Minnesota.
“Victims who are intoxicated to the degree that they are unable to give consent are entitled to justice. Minnesotans who experience unthinkable trauma deserve to see the Legislature take action on this immediately,” Moller said.
Moller introduced legislation earlier this year to amend the third-degree sexual misconduct statutes to include language that says anyone who is intoxicated, for any reason, is unable to give consent.
“It makes it very clear that this issue needs to be fixed at the legislature,” Lindsay Brice, the law and policy director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said of the state Supreme Court’s Wednesday ruling.
Marion O’Neill, a Republican state representative and co-sponsor of Moller’s bill, said that “it is time now to pass these solutions so that no victim ever has to be denied justice over a technicality,” in a statement.
Minnesota is now among several states that only consider being drunk as a barrier to consent if the alcohol was given against the victim’s will, according to The Washington Post.
Contributing: The Associated Press