Last edited: January 01, 2005

Utah Man Fights Sodomy Charge

Associated Press, July 10, 2001

SALT LAKE CITY—A man charged with sodomy for having oral sex with a 16-year-old girl is fighting prosecution, arguing that the law violates his right of free expression.

He is the first person to be charged under Utah’s anti-sodomy laws since 1990, and his may be the first consensual sodomy case in more than 15 years. A hearing was scheduled for next week.

Derrick Sundquist was 19 when he was charged last year with misdemeanor sodomy.

In Utah, a 16-year-old may have consensual sex with a person who is no more than four years older.

Sodomy was outlawed in Utah even for married couples until 1977, when the law was changed to apply only to unmarried people. It is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

If the girl was younger than 16 or Sundquist was older than 20, he could have faced felony charges of sodomy of a child, which are more common and not in dispute, said attorney Brian Barnard, who has filed a brief supporting Sundquist on behalf of the Utah Civil Rights and Liberties Foundation.

In recent years, Utah judges have dismissed lawsuits challenging sodomy and fornication laws, saying that because people are seldom prosecuted, plaintiffs are not in imminent danger of going to jail for having sex.

Sundquist was charged after the girl told police about the consensual sex in American Fork, 30 miles south of Salt Lake City.

His attorney, Laura Cabanilla, has filed a motion to dismiss the charge, arguing the law is an unconstitutional violation of her client’s right of free expression.

Tucker Hansen, city attorney for American Fork, did not return calls seeking comment.

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