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RELEASE: Rep. Moller receives Gold WATCH Award for work to update state criminal sexual conduct laws

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Wednesday, the Advocates for Human Rights presented its 2021 Gold WATCH Award to Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL – Shoreview) for her work at the State Capitol to comprehensively update Minnesota’s criminal sexual conduct code. In 2019, Rep. Moller chief authored legislation to create a task force charged with reviewing shortcomings and loopholes in the law and recommending improvements. This year, she successfully led the bipartisan effort in the Legislature to pass the group’s recommendations into law.

“Minnesotans who experience the trauma of sexual assault deserve to know they will have a pathway to justice. Unfortunately, Minnesota’s criminal sexual conduct laws fell short of this expectation, and lawmakers had a responsibility to solve this problem,” Rep. Moller said. “I’m grateful to the Advocates for Human Rights for the honor of receiving the Gold WATCH Award and for their partnership in advancing this important work to protect victims and survivors.”

The survivor-led Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutory Reform Working Group issued its report to lawmakers in January. In March, a Minnesota Supreme Court decision created greater urgency in enacting the proposed reforms when the panel ruled that existing state law did not punish the sexual violation of a victim who became intoxicated after drinking voluntarily.

During June’s special legislative session, the Legislature enacted the recommended changes as part of the Public Safety and Judiciary budget bill. In addition to closing the voluntary intoxication loophole, lawmakers approved measures to prohibit sexual extortion, a series of provisions to protect children, and to strengthen investigations of sexual assaults when both the victim and accused are members of the Minnesota National Guard. 

The Advocates for Human Rights’ WATCH Project seeks to make the justice system more effective and responsive in handling cases of violence against women and children, and to create a more informed and involved public. The Gold WATCH Award recognizes individuals or groups who move us closer to a judicial system that consistently protects the human rights of women and children. 

The new laws took effect September 15. More detail about the 2021 legislative changes can be found here.