Minnesota Erases Its Marital Rape Exemption

by | May 3, 2019 AT 5:28 PM
Bride and groom standing on a gavel.
(Shutterstock)

By Jessie Van Berkel

Minnesota has long allowed people who rape their partner to escape penalties if they meet certain conditions, a law Gov. Tim Walz called "antiquated and shameful" before repealing it Thursday.

But before Walz took up his pen to sign the bill removing the exemption, he turned to a woman who stood beside him.

"The concept of a pre-existing relationship defense should never have been part of our criminal statutes," Walz said. "It's reprehensible, and because of Jenny it is now going to be repealed."

Jenny Teeson has spent months telling legislators the story of how she was drugged and sexually assaulted by her then-husband. But under state law, he could not be prosecuted for third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Her story prompted bipartisan action by lawmakers.

Teeson watched over Walz's shoulder as he signed the repeal measure, which she said would give others the justice she was not able to get herself.

"Today is a pivotal moment in Minnesota history," Teeson said. "Today victims, former victims and people who are still in very difficult situations can know that if they are in an unsafe place ... if they do go to the authorities, justice will be served."

The law takes effect July 1.

(c)2019 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)