MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota woman says a co-worker violated her but she was shocked to learn he didn’t commit a sex crime. We should warn you, the details of the story are disturbing.
“My world had ended, seriously. It was something very serious that had happened to me and I thought there’s no repercussion for him,” Pat Maahs said.
Maah’s co-worker admitted he ejaculated into her coffee cup. He was arrested, but the judge dismissed sexual conduct charges. The judge essentially told the legislature it’s up to them to fix a hole in the law.
Maahs has worked at Beisswenger’s Hardware Store in New Brighton for 26 years. She’s the shipping and receiving manager and spends most of her time at a back desk. Her coffee keeps her moving.
“Generally, I make a cup and take it in a travel cup on my way to work. I finish that cup up about 10:30 a.m., maybe have one more cup during the day,” Maahs said.
Last August, she found fluid on her desk after catching a co-worker of 14 years standing near the edge of it.
“He looked over his shoulder, had the deer in the headlights look and promptly left the room, and when he left the room I looked down and here was a puddle on the desk,” Maahs said.
She had found fluid before. This time everything clicked, and then she picked up her coffee cup.
“I went, ‘Oh my goodness,’ because that’s when I put it all together. That’s what I was actually tasting in my coffee from previous occasions,” Maahs said.
Maahs said she realized what she thought was “spoiled” coffee over the past six months was something far more outrageous.
“It is a sexual assault. I was sexually assaulted,” Maahs said.
The co-worker faced two charges of criminal sexual conduct. But the judge dismissed them because no current sex law covered this type of incident.
“My worst thought was I have to go through STD testing for a year and he’s going to get off,” Maahs said.
At the judge’s suggestion, she enlisted the help of lawmakers.
“I just don’t think anyone ever anticipated anyone would ever do this,” Rep. Debra Hilstrom said.
Hilstrom took on the challenge of changing the law, and changing the language defining criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree.
“This says if you put your bodily fluids in someone else’s food that counts for criminal sexual conduct as well,” Hilstrom said.
Maahs said she now struggles with trust.
“We worked together that whole 14 years, and he was a trusted fellow employee, so what does that say,” she said.
It makes her more determined than ever to make sure anyone who acts this way in the future is not only charged, but is able to be prosecuted.
“This isn’t just protecting me because someone was attracted to me. It’s protecting everyone in society in general,” Maahs said.
The bill passed the Public Safety Committee without opposition. It now heads to the House floor. If made law, something like what happened to Maahs could bring felony charges. And if the person is convicted, he would have to register as a predatory offender.
Once the original charges were dismissed, he was then charged with indecent exposure. That case is still moving forward.
This entire incident has greatly affected Maahs. She said she has to do STD testing for a year, and she’s seeing a psychologist. She said sexual assault counselors are walking her through the same steps as other victims.