Skip to main content
Publish date:

Marital rape loophole in MN law is officially repealed

It's thanks to the efforts of a woman who was victimized because of the loophole.

A state law that allows some instances of marital rape to go largely unpunished has been stricken from the books.

Known as a "pre-existing relationship defense," the loophole allows people charged with sexual assault against a spouse to use their relationship as a legal defense — in other words, because they were married to the victim at the time of the assault, they can't be prosecuted.

On Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill that repeals the pre-existing relationship defense in cases of criminal sexual assault. You can view the signing in the video below:

As the Star Tribune noted earlier this year, the loophole specifically protected spouses from prosecution in cases involving sexual penetration with someone who is "mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless" — which is otherwise a crime under Minnesota law.

Forcible rape, the paper pointed out, was not included in the so-called “voluntary relationship” statue, which dates back to the 1970s. 

Its repeal, which was approved by the state legislature, is thanks to the efforts of Jenny Teeson, a rape victim who did not get justice because of this technicality. 

She took on the law after she discovered evidence that her ex-husband had raped her while the two were still married, the Duluth News Tribune notes. She had found video of her husband raping her while she was drugged and unconscious; nonetheless, he could not be prosecuted for rape.

As the paper says, Teeson spent more than a year lobbying the legislature for change. 

Gov. Walz thanked her during the ceremony, saying:

I want to recognize the grace, tenacity, and courage of Jenny Teeson, who took a horrendous experience and turned it into action to make Minnesota better. 

"This reprehensible exception should never have been part of our criminal statutes," he added.

The law goes into effect July 1.

Next Up

Target store

Target unveils deals for 2-day 'Cyber Monday' event

The promotion kicks off Sunday, November 28.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.59.30 AM

Edina police warn of recent burglary trend targeting garages and vehicles

The Edina Police Department is increasing patrols in affected neighborhoods in response to the trend.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.03.06 AM

Charges: Man shot Uber Eats driver making a delivery in Cottage Grove

Otis Donnell Shipp was charged with second-degree attempted murder after turning himself in on Wednesday.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.36.14 AM

Waterfront hotel in Duluth sustains damage in kitchen fire

Authorities estimate the damage at around $75,000.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.15.18 AM

Large groups of thieves target 2 Twin Cities Best Buys on Black Friday

It bears similarities to the flash-mob style thefts seen recently in California.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves' winning streak snapped at five games

The Wolves' bid for their longest winning streak since 2014 came up short.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Teen arrested over fatal shooting of 5-year-old boy in Brooklyn Park

Police say the teen was filming a social media video while handling a gun.

Joe Biden

President Biden coming to Minnesota to promote Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Tuesday's trip follows passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

Kirill Kaprizov

Kaprizov gets into the holiday spirit to rout Jets

Kirill Kaprizov's four points led the Wild to a 7-1 victory.

Kirk Cousins

Coller: Cure to Vikings' disrupted season lies in an explosive passing game

The Vikings go to San Francisco knowing that a win would be a huge boost to their playoff hopes.



Leader in kidnapping, gang rape of Uptown woman gets life sentence

"Mr. Lawson is nothing more than a monster," read the victim's impact statement.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

St. Cloud teen charged with raping girl in high school bathroom

Police say it happened during a late 2019 basketball game.

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 11.21.34 PM

Oregon man found guilty of rape at Bloomington hotel

The victim was drinking at a hotel bar, and woke to find she was being sexually assaulted.

Man located, charged with brutally raping a homeless woman

The woman needed emergency brain surgery after the 2017 attack.

Charges: Man raped, brutally stabbed woman he met at transit station

The woman was lucky to survive the attack, that left her with severe facial trauma.

Charges: Man raped 2 women while out on bail for attempted rape

The attacks happened a month apart in south Minneapolis.

Shawn Barta

Charges: State trooper raped 'cognitively delayed' girl in Burnsville

Charging documents say the sexual assaults started in May 2018.

Charges: Oregon businessman raped woman at Twin Cities hotel

It allegedly happened at the DoubleTree hotel on Nov. 30.