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Kandiyohi County wins appeal, court reinstates charges for dissemination of sexual image

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Attorney's Office has successfully appealed a Kandiyohi County District Court decision in a case involving three felony counts of nonconsensual dissemination of a private sexual image.

Sahra Abdilahi Ahmed
Sahra Abdilahi Ahmed

WILLMAR - The Kandiyohi County Attorney's Office has successfully appealed a Kandiyohi County District Court decision in a case involving three felony counts of nonconsensual dissemination of a private sexual image.

The District Court had ruled that there was not probable cause for the charges - due to the unknown origin of the image - and dismissed the charges.

In a ruling filed Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that probable cause does exist - because the woman charged should reasonably have known the image was created without consent - and the case was remanded back to District Court.

The county filed the three felony charges in October 2017 against Sahra Abdilahi Ahmed, 23, of Willmar, for posting on social media an image of a woman performing a sex act. The image had been copied from another person's social media posting.

The woman who first posted the image to social media removed it after being contacted by Willmar police.

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The alleged victim in the photo contacted Ahmed three times asking her to remove the image, but Ahmed did not do so, according to information included in the Court of Appeals decision.

According to the decision, the District Court determined there was not probable cause for the charges of nonconsensual dissemination because the court had focused on the fact that the origin of the image was unknown by the alleged victim, let alone the woman who had initially posted the image later copied by the defendant Ahmed.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeals stated that the statute does not require proof of how the image was created nor does it require proof that the alleged victim is aware of precisely how or when it was created. What is at issue, according to the court, is whether the defendant "reasonably should know" that the depicted individual did not consent to the dissemination of the images and had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The court found in this case that there was circumstantial evidence that the defendant Ahmed knew or should have known the alleged victim was not consenting to the dissemination of the image.

The Court of Appeals pointed out that its decision is limited to the finding that there is probable cause to bring the charges to the court. "It remains to be seen whether the state can prove the elements of the charged offenses beyond reasonable doubt," stated the court in its decision.

Related Topics: KANDIYOHI COUNTY
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