Kansas Appeals Court Rejects Sodomy Challenge
February 6, 2002
TOPEKA, Ks.—A challenge to a Kansas law that
sentenced an 18-year-old to 17 years in prison for having sex with a teen
three years and one month his junior was rejected by the Kansas Court of
Appeals, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports.
Matthew Limon, a resident of a school for developmentally disabled young
people turned 18 in February of 2000. Limon performed a sex act with another
boy, identified only as M.A.R., who was one month shy of his 15th birthday.
Both parties insisted their encounter was consensual.
A year before they had sex, Kansas legislators enacted what became known as
the "Romeo and Juliet" law. Its goal was to separate consensual
teen-age sexual relationships from cases in which older adults exploited young
It lessened the penalties for unlawful but consensual sexual relations
where one person is under 19 and the other person is between 14 and 16, if
their ages are less than four years apart. The new law also ended the
requirement that people convicted in such cases register with police as sex
The law, however, applies only when the young sexual partners are of the
opposite sex. Had Limon or the near 15-old been female, the maximum sentence
would have been one year and three months.
The case attracted the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union,
which challenged the law as being unjustly discriminatory against gay people.
Citing the controversial 1986 Supreme Court Bowers v. Hardwick decision
which upheld Georgia’s sodomy law, an unsigned opinion issued Friday by
judges Henry Green, David Knudson and G. Joseph Pierron said the states may
treat homosexual acts differently from heterosexual ones.
"Neither does this decision deal with the wisdom of the statute
involved, as that is left to the Legislature in our governmental system, with
its separation of powers," the appeals panel wrote.
Limon and the ACLU may appeal the decision to the Kansas Supreme Court and
quite possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court if the sentence is not overturned.
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