Rape charges and convictions in Minnesota are rare. Even when they do occur, there is often a small price to pay — especially when the assailant knows the victim, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Only about half the defendants convicted of felony sexual assaults in acquaintance cases receive prison time, found a Star Tribune analysis of state court records from the past decade. In cases where state sentencing guidelines recommend prison, offenders who knew their victims were twice as likely to receive a reduced sentence as those who did not. Most rape victims know their attackers. In Minnesota, only 7 percent of felony convictions during the past decade were for rapes committed by a stranger. Victims say lighter sentences for rapes committed by friends, former partners or others they know magnified the deep humiliation and anguish they experienced at the hands of people they trusted. Some regret reporting their assaults to police in the first place.
One woman, a government records clerk, was raped in 2013 by two men she knew after a festival. Five years later, both men pleaded guilty to felony sex assault. Neither spent a day in jail. In a plea deal, one attacker’s charge will be dismissed if he completes probation. “I went through five years of hell for pretty much nothing,” said the 40-year-old woman. In another case, Kate, 28, was having drinks with friends in her Minneapolis apartment. One man raped her later that night after she fell asleep in her room. He pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct, which calls for about four years in prison. He was sentenced to 60 days in a county jail and was out in a month. “I don’t see how knowing someone … changes what I went through,” Kate said. “He gave me a life sentence. I think about it every day.”