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Gay Teen Still Behind Bars Despite High Court Ruling


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Gay Teen Still Behind Bars Despite High Court Ruling

by The Associated Press

Posted: October 28, 2005 8:00 am ET

(Topeka, Kansas) Matthew Limon, whose case resulted in the Kansas Supreme Court declaring the state can't punish underage sex more harshly if it involves gays, may soon be released from prison, his attorney said late Thursday night.

Paige Nichols said the state's highest court Thursday issued its final order in the case at the request of the state and defense attorneys. (story)

Normally, the court waits 20 days, but doing it now clears the way for Nichols to ask Miami County District Judge Richard Smith to consider releasing Limon.

Limon has been in prison since 2000, serving a sentence of 17 years and two months for performing a sex act on a 14-year-old boy. Had one of them been a girl, Limon, then 18, would have faced only 15 months behind bars under a special "Romeo and Juliet" law allowing lighter punishment for teenage sex.

"We are eager to get him out as soon as we can since we feel he has been there a lot longer than he should have been," Nichols said. "He's very excited and still in a state of disbelief."

As for when the judge might consider the request, Nichols said, "We would love to see it happen before the end of the week, but it still could be early next week."

Nichols said she wants Limon released from the Ellsworth Correctional Facility pending any further action by the state. She was optimistic the judge, who presided over Limon's trial, will grant the request because the state isn't opposing it.

Nichols said she didn't know whether the matter will require a court appearance in Miami County or can be handled by a conference call.

Last Friday, the court unanimously ruled Limon must be resentenced as though the law treated illegal gay sex and illegal straight sex the same. Striking the offending language from the law, the court said the different treatment violated Limon's equal protection rights.

At the time, Attorney General Phill Kline said he didn't plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has repeatedly described Limon as a predator because his criminal record already contained two similar offenses.

Even if Miami County Attorney David Miller decides to charge Limon anew, he's already served longer than the maximum sentence allowed under the Romeo and Juliet law.

The case has been watched by national groups on both sides of the issue, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which handled his case before the high court.

Both Limon and the other boy, identified only as M.A.R. in court documents, lived at a Paola group home for the developmentally disabled. In court, an official described M.A.R. as mildly retarded and Limon as functioning at a slightly higher level but not as an 18-year-old.

Limon's attorneys described the relationship with the younger boy in 2000 as consensual and suggested they were adolescents experimenting with sex. Kline says Limon exploited the other boy.

Kansas law makes any sexual activity involving a person under 16 illegal.

The 1999 Romeo and Juliet law mandates lesser penalties for illegal sex when partners are age 14 to 19 and their ages are less than four years apart. As written, it specifically applied in cases where the partners were of the opposite sex.

©365Gay.com 2005


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