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2 Men Charged with Sodomy in N.C.

Arrest goes against Supreme Court ruling

2 Men Charged with Sodomy in N.C.
RALEIGH, N.C. – It's been only five years since the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized consensual sodomy between adults, but apparently, police in West Raleigh, N.C., haven't yet been made aware of the ruling.

It all started when Nelson Sloan called 911 in the early morning hours of May 24, claiming he'd been attacked in his apartment in Grand Manor Court by Ryan Flynn. After investigation, the cops charged Flynn with simple assault for biting Sloan – and with threatening to disembowel Sloan and show him his (Sloan's) innards.

But they also charged both men with committing an "infamous crime against nature" – North Carolina's legal term for sodomy.

This looks like a case of a consensual act that may have gotten out of hand," police Capt. T.D. Hardy told the Raleigh News & Observer. "The law is still on the books. Our detectives got involved in it last night and decided this was the best thing to do. What the D.A.'s office will do with it, I don't know."

But although the Raleigh Police Department's attorney, Dawn Bryant, told officers in August 2003, two months after the Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence, that they could continue charging adults who performed sodomy in public, the "crime against nature" law remains in the state's criminal code and, said Bryant, "The decision only applies to private conduct."

The good news is, Wake County prosecutors dropped the sodomy charges against both men a week later, with Assistant District Attorney Adam Moyers concluding that the blowjobs and/or anal sex between the men were consensual and private.

The bad news is, Sloan still had to pay $450 to a bail bondsman to get released from jail, and though he's asked for a refund, it's unlikely that he'll get it.

The further bad news is, though many North Carolina district attorneys have stopped prosecuting the sodomy law, State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (D- Carrboro) has tried for years to rescind the statute.

"I press it every year," Kinnaird said shortly after the arrests. "It would be politically difficult, but that doesn't matter. It's unconstitutional."

"I couldn't care less what these guys do," said Joe Furmick, the magistrate who set Sloan's bail at $3,000. "I'm with the old Victorian lady who said, 'I don't care what people do as long as they don't do it in the street and scare the horses.' But you don't want me to decide which laws to enforce and which not to. My opinion shouldn't enter into it."

Apparently, the "veteran Wake County magistrate" wasn't (and perhaps isn't) aware that it's every citizen's (and certainly every judicial officer's) duty not to obey laws that are unconstitutional.
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