When rape is reported in Minnesota, investigation failures are common. Interviews are often not conducted, investigators aren’t assigned, and many times, cases are never sent to prosecutors.
Minnesota Rape and Sexual Assault
A recent Star Tribute report of more than 1,000 reported Minnesota sexual assault cases reveals investigation failures and errors by state law enforcement officials. The report is based on evidence of reported rape cases over a two-year period in the Twin Cities and across Minnesota. The 1,000 reported sexual assault cases account for about one-half of reported cases during 2015 and 2016.
Sexual assault reports requested by the Star Tribune included 20 law enforcement agencies across the state, including Duluth, Mankato, Minneapolis, and Moorhead. After months of waiting, hundreds of requested reports have not been provided by law enforcement agencies, and requests to the Minneapolis Police Department are now over a year old.
- In 25 percent of cases, law enforcement failed to assign an investigator
- In 33 percent of cases, the investigator never interviewed the assault victim
- In 50 percent of cases, police officers failed to talk to or interview potential witnesses
- In 75 percent of cases, sexual report allegations were never forwarded to prosecutors for criminal assault charges
According to the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, less than one in 10 reported sexual assaults seen by an assault attorney result in a conviction, because only one in four cases is ever referred to a prosecuting attorney. In 2016, there were 481 people convicted of felony-level sexual assaults in Minnesota, but more than 1,300 sexual assault cases were filed. Prosecutors reject at least one-half of the cases that police officers send them, even cases that include confessions, DNA evidence, and witnesses. Police officers are commonly never asked to conduct additional interviews and/or investigations that may prove guilt.
In 2017, rapes on Minnesota college campuses rose for the second straight year, but less than 50 percent of cases were ever investigated by college officials. Out of the 84 colleges that reported campus sexual assaults, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities had the most reported incidents with 93 sexual assault cases. In Minnesota, colleges and universities are not required to submit reasons for not investigating a sexual assault to the state. When submitting school-related annual data, providing this type of information is arbitrary. Many schools do not report campus rapes and sexual assaults because they may lower school interests and enrollments by potential students.