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8th Circuit issues conflicting decisions in sexual assault cases

Filed Under: Law
More on: 8th circuit, abuse, crime, nebraska, santee sioux, south dakota, yankton sioux

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued conflicting decisions in two Indian Country sexual assault cases on Thursday.

James Bruguier was charged with sexual abuse of an incapacitated person for an incident on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Larry Rouillard was charged with a similar crime for an incident on the Santee Sioux Reservation in Nebraska.

In both cases, the defendants were charged under a section of federal law that makes it a crime for a person to "knowingly" engage in sexual activity with someone who is mentally or physically incapacitated. But the judges that heard each appeal reached a different conclusion on the meaning of the law.

In Bruguier's case, the 8th Circuit said he "knowingly" engaged in a sexual act with an incapacitated person. The conviction against him was upheld.

But in Rouillard's case, the court said the law requires a "defendant’s knowledge that the other person was incapacitated." The conviction was dismissed and a new trial was ordered.

The conflict could be resolved by an en banc panel of the 8th Circuit.

8th Circuit Decisions:
US v. Bruguier (December 13, 2012)
US V. v. Rouillard (December 13, 2012)

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