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Minneapolis Sex Offense Law Blog

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Official appointed to oversee child abuse claims against clergy

The media has a way of adding fuel to the fire, at least when it comes to allegations of criminal sexual conduct. In the most recent example, the media has reported that a former official of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is now overseeing allegations of sexual abuse brought against the Twin Cities archdiocese. 

Specifically, the official has been appointed as the archdiocese’s director of ministerial standards and safe environment. His duties will include directly responding to sexual abuse allegations and also forwarding those reports to the police. 

Teenager's sex crime conviction includes sex offender registry

In a recent post, we explored some of the policy considerations surrounding the sex offender registration requirement that is mandatory for many felony-level criminal sexual conduct convictions in Minnesota. 

Given the public access to the sex offender registry, it’s not surprising that many individuals who have served time for a sex offender conviction experience difficulties in attempting to reenter society, both professionally and personally. A registry listing may result in housing restriction and denied access to certain jobs.

False sex crime allegation tarnishes rocker's reputation

An allegation of sexual assault can have serious consequences for both the accused and the alleged victim. A recent case involving indie rocker Oberst provides context.

The allegation was made on a woman’s personal website. It took a $1.2 million libel suit by Oberst -- and another intervening period of five months -- before the woman uploaded a notarized statement on her website, admitting the allegations to be false. 

Does sex offender registration help or hurt the public?

One of the most severe consequences that can follow a conviction for a sex crime is mandatory sex offender registration. Although widely known, the registry is actually a fairly recent requirement, stemming from Congressional action in 1994. With the benefit of a 20-year perspective, a recent article questions whether that registry is accomplishing its original goals of deterrence, rehabilitation and public safety.

First and foremost, many public safety advocates observe that the types of sex crimes that qualify for inclusion on the registry has grown. Critics say that such enlargement comes at the expense of public safety: With limited resources, police may not be able to differentiate between criminal defendants who actually pose a risk of recidivism.

Program helps, rather than criminalizes, youthful sex offenders

Prosecutors may not hesitate to bring sex trafficking charges against every involved party. However, a new Minnesota law recognizes that there can be victims in the sex trade, especially for younger offenders. 

Called the Minnesota Safe Harbor Law, the law offers support to individuals 18 years of age or younger who might have been sexually exploited into sex crime acts, such as prostitution or sex trafficking. The law utilizes a service called the “No Wrong Door Program,” where state-funded food, shelter, clothing and other services can be offered to youth who may have found themselves involved in a sex crime.

Lawsuit alleges unconstitutional treatment of sex offenders

According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ website, the Minnesota Sex Offender Program is a treatment program for sex offenders who have served their prison sentences but remain civilly committed by a court. Those placed into the program may have been viewed as more at risk of recidivism. However, the placement is not supposed to permanent, at least in theory. Rather, individuals may petition to have their progress evaluated. 

However, a recent lawsuit alleges that the program, which is nearing its 20-year milestone, is more a prison than a treatment center. Almost 700 individuals currently in the program have brought a class action lawsuit against the state. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges that the program is unconstitutionally administered, as only one individual has ever been released from it.  

Teen sexting: a compelling and distinctly 21st-cenury problem

A recent media article on the rapidly evolving online technologies that so entice legions of Internet users in Minnesota, nationally and across the globe refers to “the brave new world of social media.”

What exactly does that mean?

Parents of teens enamored of their smartphones and the seemingly endless number of entertaining “apps” they contain know well what that depiction implies, and many of them are duly concerned with their adolescents’ involvement with social media sites.

When such involvement turns problematic, it is frequently because of one thing, which can absolutely chill parents in Minnesota and across the country: sexting.

Man is steps away from formal exoneration for a rape he didn't do

There is nothing that can truly make up for being wrongfully convicted of a crime and sent to prison. Being charged with sexual assault destroys your reputation, but that is nothing to being sentenced to prison for years because of faulty evidence. That is years of being confined when you should be free, years of earning no money when you could be developing a career, years without your family when you could be celebrating important milestones with your loved ones. Though it certainly won't completely make up for it, an exoneration is a good first step.

Not only does a formal exoneration completely clear you of any wrongdoing, it can also prompt payments from the State of Minnesota.

Minneapolis teacher makes admissions to police

Ask any criminal defense lawyer and he or she will tell you not to talk to police until you have a chance to talk to an attorney. It doesn't matter if you are guilty or innocent or know why you have been arrested or not; talking to police without consulting an attorney can be disastrous.

The problem is that once someone waives his or her rights to silence and an attorney, anything he or she says may be used by prosecutors. This evidence makes it incredibly difficult for a criminal defense lawyer to later negotiate a plea deal, to reduce charges, and, sometimes, to protect a client's rights. Just because someone is suspected of committing a crime, even a heinous crime, doesn't mean that his or her rights shouldn't be protected.

Can anyone get out of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program?

When an offender serves his or her sentence, he or she will be released from prison, correct? If the person was charged with a sex crime, the answer may be "no." In Minnesota, if someone is convicted of a sex crime and approaching his or her release date, the state may choose to have the individual civilly committed if it believes he or she will continue to be a threat to the community.

The Minnesota Sex Offender Program is designed to keep potentially dangerous sex offenders out of the public, but it has faced considerable criticism for years, in part because only two people have ever been released from the program. There are several phases to the treatment these civilly committed individuals are suppoesd to receive, but most won't make it out of Phase One. To make it to the third and final phase, it could take decades.

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