It’s legal to grab a person’s (clothed) backside in Minnesota, but probably not for long

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Minnesota lawmakers are considering a bill that would remove an exception to criminal law that allows intentional touching of another person's clothed bottom.

It’s not illegal in Minnesota to touch a person’s butt without their consent — as long the rear end in question is clothed.

Now, in the era of #MeToo, state lawmakers there are taking steps to remove that potentially embarrassing and risky loophole.

A bill now working its way through Minnesota’s legislature would remove the exemption, which states that the definition of “sexual contact” “does not include the intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks.”

The measure removing the exemption was approved Wednesday by the state Senate’s Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.

So, how did such a bizarre loophole end up in Minnesota law?

No one seems to know for sure. The criminal statute dates back to at least 1988. Two of the bill’s sponsors, state Sens. John Marty and Carolyn Laine, told the Pioneer Press in St. Paul they think the exemption may have developed as a way to protect football coaches who pat their players on their backsides to show encouragement.

But a butt pat from a coach shouldn’t get someone in trouble anyway, unless it was done “with sexual or aggressive intent.”

If the bill passes, the penalty for violating the criminal sexual conduct statute — with the clothed buttocks exemption removed — would stay the same: a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a find capped at $3,000.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.