It is difficult for some people to hear that a person has been acquitted of criminal sexual conduct. However, Minnesota does not necessary have to corroborate the story of the accuser in order for someone to be charged or convicted of the crime.
It is outlined in Minnesota Statute 609.347 subd. 1 that the testimony of a victim does not have to be corroborated. This was also stated in the case State v. Ani (Minn 1977). “Corroboration” is defined as other evidence that supports the accusation of the accuser.
There have been a number of cases throughout Minnesota in which individuals have been wrongfully charged of criminal sexual conduct because of simple accusations. Not only does this hurt the accused, but it also hurts the credibility of those who have legitimately been victimized. It is a disservice to law enforcement and the court system as well.
Even if a person does not have a prior criminal record and has a flawless reputation, the accusation takes precedent and the case is aggressively prosecuted.
Nationwide, there have been quite a few false accusations. These false accusations have led to convictions that sent these individuals to prison under the title of “rapist” or “sex offender.” DNA evidence has led to the release of some of them, while others are still waiting. When DNA evidence has led to the declaration of their innocence and they are released from prison, they tend to win large monetary settlements for the wrongful conviction and the years of their lives that they lost.
Sometimes false accusations stem from custody issues or out of “revenge.” For instance, a parent may coach their young child to say that the other person touched them inappropriately in an effort to keep the other parent from ever gaining custody of the child. Other times, someone may be mad at another and wish to get revenge by going as far as accusing them of sexual assault.
Also unfortunate is when someone makes the accusation for the sole purpose of getting attention. Sometimes these individuals recant and other times they see it through to the conclusion. In some cases, they will come out and say after the conviction that their accusations were false, but it takes much more than that to get a person out of prison.
However, you cannot be convicted of criminal sexual conduct unless the prosecutor convinces the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that each of the elements of criminal sexual conduct exist. The job of the defense is to implant reasonable doubt where it belongs to get the correct verdict.
Nonetheless, the prosecutor legally points to the jury and states that if they believe the victim, that is enough evidence to convict the defendant. In other words, the conviction occurs simply because of another person’s word and not the evidence or lack of evidence in the case. Most juries do review the facts and evidence in the case, knowing that false accusations do happen and the defense’s job is to point out why they should thoroughly weigh everything. In other words, a jury requiring the government to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is a standard that should be adhered to and something that most juries do adhere to in order to avoid false accusations as much as possible. This is one of the reasons why false accusations do not lead to conviction, but the charge itself causes enough damage.