Sexual conduct laws need many reforms

Keelia Moeller

In September 2014, John Robert Lind, a man from Blaine, was charged with criminal sexual conduct after admitting to ejaculating into his co-worker’s coffee on multiple occasions.
 
Lind said he was attracted to the woman, and that his actions were attempts to get the woman to “notice him.”
 
The report against Lind was filed after his co-worker discovered him standing near her desk with his back to her and his hands in front of him near his genitals. Upon being seen, he quickly left the room. 
 
After this incident, Lind’s co-worker became suspicious and inspected her work area. She noticed a large amount of clear liquid and a strong odor around her desk area and inside her coffee cup. The woman had noticed a foul taste in her coffee on previous occasions, confirming her suspicions and leading her to file a report. 
 
In an interview with police, Lind admitted to four other occasions when he had ejaculated into his co-worker’s coffee or around her desk area. 
 
Although it was reported last September that Lind was charged with two gross misdemeanor charges — fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct and attempted fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct — the charges were dismissed because a Minnesota statute does not include contact with semen as sexual contact. 
 
Instead, Lind was charged with misdemeanor indecent exposure. His sentencing is set for late May. 
 
The woman recently began advocating for a bill that would change this Minnesota statute so that contact with semen would be considered sexual contact by law.
 
Unfortunately, Minnesota lawmakers met her request with an inappropriately light-hearted tone. 
 
Rep. Ron Erhardt, DFL-Edina, used an episode from “Friends” to make a point that contact with saliva should be excluded from the bill. 
 
The unprofessional nature of how this case was handled was entirely uncalled for. This woman was clearly a victim of severe sexual violations, whether the law will say this or not. 
 
This is not the first time a case like this has come about. In 2011, Michael Kevin Lallana was convicted of ejaculating into his female co-worker’s water bottle on two occasions. His reasoning was identical to Lind’s — he did it because he was attracted to his co-worker.
 
Lawmakers in California saw this behavior as criminal sexual activity. Unlike Lind, Lallana was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation. He was also required to register as a sex offender. 
 
The real question that needs to be asked is: Why doesn’t Minnesota view these crimes as seriously as other states do? What both men did was a violation of their co-worker’s bodies, but Lind may end up with a far lesser sentence than that of Lallana. 
 
Minnesota law must be changed.
 
As of right now, it is deficient, and it fails to protect the rights of sexual conduct victims as well as it should.