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State Supreme Court rejects Holloway appeal

August 4, 2018

A former Rochester coffee-shop owner convicted in June 2016 of sexually assaulting a minor lost his appeal to the state’s highest court this week.

Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David L. Lillehaug ruled on Wednesday that Christopher Lee Holloway’s conviction of third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, with aggravating factors, will stand.

Holloway, 48, had argued that he should have been allowed to use the mistake-of-age defense, and the denial of his right to do so was unconstitutional and unfair.

On Sept. 16, 2016, Olmsted County District Court Judge Joseph Chase handed down stayed prison terms of 60 months and 15 months, respectively, and ordered Holloway to spend 240 days in jail.

Holloway met the boy — then 14 — through Grindr, a social networking app for gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. Holloway twice went to the boy’s house, which is where the sexual contact occurred. The boy’s mother discovered Holloway in her home during his second visit.

After representing himself during the trial, Holloway hired attorney Max Heller.

In September 2017, Holloway, through his attorney, appealed the verdict before the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The court rejected his appeal in November 2017. He appealed that ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

In his Wednesday ruling, Lillehaug wrote that the Legislature’s limiting of the mistake-of-age defense was done to “protect children by eliminating the defense for certain adults, and especially for adults who prey upon younger children.”

“Second, by preserving the defense for teenagers and the youngest adults, the Legislature sought to protect from prosecution those defendants who might make a bona fide mistake during a romantic relationship,” Lillehaug wrote.

To be able to use the mistake-of-age defense, a defendant must be no more than 120 months older than the complainant — who is at least 13 but less than 16 years old — was not in a position of authority and not in a “significant relationship” with the child.

The 10-year limit, Lillehaug ruled was “neither arbitrary nor capricious.”

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