Last edited: February 14, 2005

Kansas Appeals Court Rejects Sodomy Challenge

Datalounge, 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 children.

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 offenders.

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.

[Home] [News] [Kansas]