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State v. Holloway

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

November 20, 2017

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Christopher Lee Holloway, Appellant.

         Olmsted County District Court File No. 55-CR-14-8517

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Mark A. Ostrem, Olmsted County Attorney, James Spencer, Assistant County Attorney, Jennifer D. Plante, Assistant County Attorney, Rochester, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Max A. Keller, Lexie D. Stein, Keller Law Offices, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Connolly, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Rodenberg, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         Minnesota Statutes sections 609.344, subdivision 1(b) (2014), and 609.345, subdivision 1(b) (2014), do not violate a criminal-sexual-conduct defendant's substantive due process or equal protection rights by limiting the mistake-of-age defense only to defendants who are less than 120 months older than their child-victims.

          OPINION

          ROSS, Judge

         The mother of a 14-year-old boy called police after she found 44-year-old stranger Christopher Holloway naked in bed with her son. The district court prohibited Holloway from raising the mistake-of-age affirmative defense against the consequent criminal-sexual-conduct charges because Minnesota law allows the defense only for a defendant who is no more than 120 months older than his victim. On appeal from his convictions of third-degree and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, Holloway challenges the constitutionality of this limitation, arguing that it violates his substantive due process and equal protection rights. We affirm his conviction because the legislature was not required to make knowledge of the child's age an element of statutory rape and the 120-month window is rationally related to the legitimate objective of most vigorously protecting younger children from sexual abuse.

         FACTS

         Forty-four-year-old Christopher Holloway met 14-year-old J.D. on a social-media application designed to facilitate meetings between homosexual men. The two began exchanging messages, and J.D. told Holloway that he was 18 years old. They agreed to meet. Holloway went to J.D.'s house in the middle of the night in December 2014. He engaged sexually with J.D. The next night Holloway went there again. He sexually penetrated J.D. in his basement bedroom. J.D.'s mother heard noises and walked in. She found Holloway naked in bed with her son and called the police. Holloway fled. Police soon found and arrested him.

         The state charged Holloway with criminal sexual conduct in the third and fourth degrees. The statutes that define both crimes permit a mistake-of-age affirmative defense only for a defendant who, unlike Holloway, is no more than 120 months older than the child. Minn. Stat. §§ 609.344, subd. 1(b), 609.345, subd. 1(b) (2014). Holloway argued to the district court that this limitation in both statutes is unconstitutional on substantive due process and equal protection grounds. The district court held the statutes constitutional.

         A jury found Holloway guilty of both offenses. Holloway appeals.

         ISSUES

I. Did the district court abuse its discretion by failing to include a jury instruction about the state's need to prove that ...

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