Minnesota Caselaw Identifying Categories of Individuals that Fall Under a “Current of Recent Position of Authority”
Beyond the listed categories of a “current or recent position of authority” in Minnesota Statute Section 609.341, Minnesota courts have identified several other categories of individuals that fall under a position of authority. The following categories are not an exclusive list of all positions that fall under a “current or recent position of authority.”
In State v. Lewandowski, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that a horseback-riding instructor held a position of authority over the victim within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 609.341. The Court found it significant that the instructor fed the victim, provided the victim with transportation, allowed the victim to sleep in his guest bedroom in his house, and practically acted as her guardian when she stayed at his farm. The Court also considered the fact that the instructor also told the victim’s mother that he would take care of the victim like she was his own daughter.
In State v. Bates, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that a gymnastics instructor and coach at a gymnastics school held a position of authority over the victims, even though the abuse did not take place during the lessons. Beyond overseeing the victims during gymnastics lessons, the coach was in charge of the victims’ wellbeing during gymnastics meets, during travel to the meets, and when the victims stayed overnight in his house.
In State v. Rucker, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that a co-facilitator of an after-school program held a position of authority over the student victims. The Court found it significant that the co-facilitator supervised the victims while they participated in the after-school program, encouraged the victims to contact him outside of the after-school program, and took the victims’ away from their homes with their parents’ permission as a reward for doing well in the after-school program.
In State v. Hanson, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that an employer held a position of authority over the victim to cause her to submit to sexual contact. The employer approached the victim at work while she was talking with friends, told the friends to return to work, and then made sexual contact with the victim. The employer also touched the victim’s inner thigh near her genital area several times while at work. The Court ruled that the employer used his position of authority as the victim’s employer to cause her to submit to the sexual contact, because he approached the victim at work and was operating within the employment relationship when he approached the victim.
In State v. Fero, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that a manager held a position of authority over the victim. The manager was the direct supervisor of the victim and had the power to enforce work rules and exact obedience. The Court found that the manager held a position of authority over the victim, because the manager was charged with the responsibility of the welfare of the employee victim and the victim was afraid he would be terminated if he refused the manager’s advances.
In State v. Hall, the Supreme Court of Minnesota held that the employer of a babysitter held a position of authority over the victim, a babysitter hired to watch his children. The employer allowed the victim to stay in his home to watch his children and regularly drove her home after she was done babysitting. The Court found that the employer used his position of authority as the victim’s employer to cause the victim to submit.
In State v. Mogler, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that a police officer held a position of authority over an underage victim. The police officer met the victim through his employment as a police officer assigned to perform community policing and developed his relationship with the victim by allowing her to ride in his squad vehicle. The police officer was on duty and in uniform during the incidents of sexual intercourse. One of the incidents took place in a conference room at the police station. The Court found that a jury could reasonably conclude that the police officer was in a position of authority over the victim.
In State v. Garza, the Minnesota Court of Appeals found that a man who took responsibility for the victim’s well-being and agreed that he was a type of “father figure” to the victim held a position of authority over the victim. The Court considered the facts that the father figure would allow the victim to stay with him when she attended school, drove the victim to and from school, bought the victim food and other items, gave the victim chores, gave the victim lunch money, and mediated disputes between the victim and her sister. The Court also found it significant that the victim was afraid to resist the father figure’s unwanted sexual advances, because of the position of authority the father figure held over the victim.