In Minnesota, a person who is sexually assaulted while intoxicated isn't considered "mentally incapacitated" — a designation that warrants a higher charge for the attacker — if her or she consumed alcohol or drugs voluntarily, according to a new state Supreme Court decision that could have far-reaching consequences for rape victims.
The state's highest court released the opinion Wednesday, also granting Francios Momulu Khalil, a man convicted of criminal sexual misconduct, a new trial. In 2017, Khalil picked up a woman who had been refused entry from a Dinkytown bar for being too intoxicated. Khalil offered to take her to a party, but instead brought her back to his north Minneapolis home and raped her.
A jury found Khalil guilty of third-degree criminal sexual misconduct because the victim was mentally incapacitated.
The unanimous Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Paul Thissen, says 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. The statute "means that a person under the influence of alcohol is not mentally incapacitated unless the alcohol was administered to the person under its influence without that person's agreement," wrote Thissen.
The decision comes after a new report, prompted by a Star Tribune investigative series, that urges lawmakers to adopt stricter laws to protect victims of alcohol-related sexual assault. The report found that current law poses a "significant roadblock" to prosecuting cases where someone is voluntarily intoxicated but unable to consent.
This is a developing story. Check back with the Star Tribune for updates.
Andy Mannix • 612-673-4036