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Denied Justice: Reports uncovers flaws in the state legal system when it comes to sexual assaults

A series released by the Star Tribune helped shed light on a flawed system, and pushed Minnesota lawmakers to make a change.

MINNEAPOLIS — A Star Tribune series called "Denied Justice" spelled it out victim survivor, by victim survivor.

Kilomarie's story was in those pages.

"While in a position of helping and advocacy, I, myself, was assaulted," she said. "But I still was not listened to because I came with the label of a victim, survivor, immediately shut door on me many many times."

But Brandon Stahl, who led the Denied Justice project and is now part of the KARE 11 Investigations Team, did listen to her. And so many many others. Once those stories became public, alongside his reporting of the gaps in the system that led to literally denying these victim survivors justice, a decision was made to do the work on filling those gaps.

Kilomarie was on the steering committee that finalized this report for Minnesota lawmakers this week, and it spells out, what to do. 

"Seeing that report finally come out, honestly, is one of the best moments of my life," Kilomarie said. 

The report points out two key areas to change: 

1. Current law says a person is mentally incapacitated only if they become intoxicated involuntarily – meaning they were drugged – this report says, change that. Even if a victim drinks on their own, that shouldn't be grounds to disbelieve that they didn't consent. 

2. If a victim is blackmailed or threatened into sex, that should be a crime. 

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"Rates of individuals coming forward saying I am being trafficked or I am being exploited because I need housing right now is thru the roof," Kilomarie said.  "The personal stories I hear as well the collective stories I hear would break your heart they break mine and I do this work every day and they break my heart to hear just what people will do to keep a roof over their head right now. No one should be forced to live that kind of life."

No one. 

And her work alongside others in these pages, has been given to those we elect to make and change our laws. To spell out: This can't happen. 

"Its worth it," Kilomarie said. "It hurts but its worth it because every speak every time it effects positive change."

Kilomarie's story, along so many others, have provided that positive change.

"You have to have hope that someone will listen to you and something will happen and that hope kept me going but no I never, ever imagined that change would ever happen," Kilomarie said. "No, I had no idea, I am just so thankful…so thankful to not have had an idea what was coming cause in this case it was good and thankful to see this happen."

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