Sexual assault statutes

The trial and appeal of Dominic Jones reveals ambiguity in state sexual assault laws.

Throughout the tragic ordeal of the Dominic Jones case, loopholes in MinnesotaâÄôs sexual assault statutes allowed for prosecutorial missteps and a path for the defense to attempt to mitigate the conviction of Jones. The jury found Jones, a former Gopher football star, guilty of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct. But that requires proof of âÄúsexual contact,âÄù and JonesâÄô defense is partly arguing in appeal that since a video showing Jones ejaculating on an unresponsive victimâÄôs face failed to show that, Jones should be granted a retrial. Embarrassingly, the state retorted by citing English common law, which says that assault constitutes expelling bodily fluid on a person. Unfortunately, there is no mention of ejaculation in any of MinnesotaâÄôs sexual assault statutes. The defense is also calling into question the trial judgeâÄôs decision to disallow as evidence the victimâÄôs sexual history that night, in the name of rape shield laws. The criminal complaint alleges three other men took turns having sex with the victim before Jones performed the sex act. But the judge ruled the inflammatory nature of the victimâÄôs sexual history outweighed its evidentiary pertinence âÄî citing vague rape shield law language. Thus, in attempting to convict Jones of third degree criminal sexual conduct, which requires proving sexual penetration, the prosecution was able to argue that DNA from condoms partly matched that of Jones. Yet the defense was unable to counter that JonesâÄô half brother was among the three men who took turns having sex with the victim. State lawmakers should note this case. MinnesotaâÄôs prosecutors should not have to cite antiquated common law in sexual assault cases, and there should not be doubt about the applicability of valuable rape shield laws âÄî even in an adversarial court system. In the trial of Dominic Jones, a video clearly showed a young man sexually degrading an unconscious young woman, and the law has nothing explicit to say about it.