Jenny Teeson accused her husband of drugging and raping her while she slept two years ago.
The Minnesota woman found videos of the incident on her computer, according to the Star Tribune newspaper. However, when the couple went to court, Teeson’s husband agreed to a plea deal, was convicted of invading her privacy and received only a 45-day jail sentence.
That’s because until Thursday, a statute in Minnesota law referenced “the voluntary relationship defense” for criminal sexual conduct crimes that essentially allowed for marital rape. The statute protected people from prosecution if the sexual misconduct they committed was against a partner in an “ongoing, voluntary relationship.”
Gov. Tim Walz made the repeal of the statute official Thursday during a signing ceremony. The new law to eliminate the voluntary relationship defense is set to go into effect July 1.
“The concept of a pre-existing relationship defense should’ve never been part of our criminal statutes. It’s reprehensible and because of Jenny it is now going to be repealed,” Walz said Thursday.
Rep. Zack Stephenson, who sponsored the bill, said the signing ceremony made history in Minnesota as the state moved its laws “out of the 19th century.”
“All Minnesotans deserve to be safe, regardless of who they’re married to,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said the bill is “a testament to the hard work of victims, survivors and advocates” such as Teeson.
“This journey has definitely been a long one and today is a pivotal moment in Minnesota history,” Teeson said. “Today victims, former victims and people who are still in very difficult situations can know that if they are in an unsafe place, in an uncomfortable place, and things are happening to them that if they do go to the authorities that justice will be served.”