For years, a middle-aged Minnesota man had a relationship with a young woman. According to TwinCities.com, the man, who is an attorney, first served as a family friend and father figure to the girl starting when she was 9 years old. In 2012, when the young woman was 17 and he was 46, the relationship turned romantic. As the situation progressed, the young woman’s parents filed for a restraining order. The man now faces several charges of sexual crimes despite the fact that the young woman was older than the legal consensual age at the time of the relationship.
According to the young woman’s testimony, the man outlined the acts in which they could legally engage. He told her that as long as there was no sexual penetration, their actions would not constitute a criminal charge. However, the man has been charged with two felony counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.
According to Minnesota law, sexual contact is intentionally touching the victim’s intimate parts or the clothing over intimate parts. The young woman in this case, who is now 19 years old, testified that they would drive around in his family van and occasionally kiss. She went on to say that he touched her buttocks and breast over her clothes, and a week later touched her breasts under her clothes. She testified that he pushed her to do more, but she resisted. The young woman did not report the relationship while it was ongoing but now says she feels she was victimized.
The age of consent
At the center of the case is the young woman’s age. The age of consent varies from state to state. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that in Minnesota, that age is 16. Therefore, sexual acts with someone younger than 16 are illegal with two exceptions: if the victim is younger than 13 and the partner is less than 3 years older, or if the victim is at least 13 and the partner is less than 2 years older.
In this situation, the young woman was 17 when the sexual contact began. Prosecutors are now trying to demonstrate that the man was in a position of authority over the young woman, which could qualify the sexual activity as a crime. The young woman testified that during her relationship with the man, he continued to provide her with life advice and help her with her plans for college. The defendant claims that he was not serving as a mentor or father figure at the time of their relationship.