Minnesota bill would address police sexual assault; Advocates say its long overdue

Published 8:27 am Monday, May 7, 2018

ST. PAUL — Minnesota lawmakers are on the verge of passing legislation to make it illegal for police officers to have sex with people in their custody.

The state House approved Tuesday a public safety bill that includes a provision that would close what some say is a sexual assault loop hole, the Pioneer Press reported.

Minnesota police officers can currently argue that sex is consensual, despite what many advocates say is an imbalanced power dynamic.

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The bill would make it illegal for officers to have sex with someone in their custody or anyone who doesn’t reasonably believe that they can freely leave the officer’s presence. An officer could be charged with third or fourth degree criminal sexual conduct, which are both felonies.

“Clearly, when someone is in custody of a police officer, (the officer) is in a position of power over them,” said state Rep. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury. “I was surprised it wasn’t illegal already.”

Advocates for sexual assault victims say it’s a long-overdue change.