Judges Let Sex Ruling Stand
Attorney General Loses Bid for Clarification of Decisions Impact on Gay-Sex
Daily Tribune, September 1, 1999
Box 798, Columbia, MO 65205
Fax: 573 815-1701
By Rudi Keller of the Tribunes staff
The Western District Missouri Court of Appeals yesterday declined to reaffirm the state
law against homosexual conduct.
The decision, which was issued without comment by the court, leaves in place a July 6
opinion that calls the law into question. The court in that opinion ruled that consent was
a defense to the crime of first-degree sexual misconduct, a misdemeanor.
The sexual misconduct law is the only state law that attempts to criminalize private
homosexual acts. It is now up to state lawmakers to decide whether to rewrite the law. The
opinion did not strike down the law, which means a person could still be charged under the
statute, said Tara Jensen of the state Public Defenders office. "They can
always be charged, but I think at this point it will be a sufficient defense that the
person you engaged in the act with consented," Jensen said.
Attorney General Jay Nixons office had asked the court to modify the July 6
opinion because the case didnt directly address homosexuality.
In the case, William Cogshell of Kansas City had been convicted of two counts of sexual
misconduct for touching a teenage boy in a sexual manner.
The ruling overturned Cogshells conviction, saying the evidence was clear the boy
had consented. Cogshell did not appeal felony convictions for statutory sodomy and is
serving a 13-year prison term on those charges.
Nixons office asked for the modification because the ruling allowed for an
interpretation that consent was a defense to the homosexual ban as well as the ban on
unwanted sexual touching.
Nixon said in a recent interview that he personally opposes laws making homosexuality a
crime but he sought the change because his office defends all state laws.
There will be no further appeal in the case, said Mary Still, spokeswoman for Nixon.
Jensen said she pursued the appeal despite the limited impact on Cogshells
overall time in prison. He was sentenced to six months on the sexual misconduct charges,
time he would have finished serving before the court issued its original ruling.
"Ultimately, anybody who has a record would prefer to have fewer crimes on their
record than more," she said. "In reality, the crime he was charged with was a
crime he did not commit."
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