Idaho settles lawsuit over antiquated anti-sodomy law
The James A. McClure Federal Building & United States Courthouse, which houses the U.S. District Court, in seen in Boise, Idaho, on Jan. 19, 2007. Idaho has agreed to allow people who have been convicted of having oral or anal sex under an antiquated law to be removed from the state's sex offender list in order to settle a two-year-old lawsuit. The Idaho State Police will also pay the attorneys fees of the men who sued over the law, according to the settlement filed in Idaho's U.S. District Court on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Troy Maben, File)
By REBECCA BOONE
BOISE — People who were convicted of having oral or anal sex under an antiquated Idaho law will be allowed to be removed from the state’s sex offender list, according to a settlement Idaho has reached to resolve a two-year-old lawsuit.
The Idaho State Police will also pay the legal fees of the men who sued over the law, according to the settlement filed in Idaho's U.S. District Court on Thursday.
“There’s no reason in 2022 that anybody should be on the sex offender list just for having oral and anal sex or just for being gay,” said Matthew Strugar, one of the attorneys who represented the men. “We’re obviously thrilled to get this victory.”
A man using the pseudonym “John Doe” filed the lawsuit in 2020, saying his constitutional rights were violated when he was forced to register as a sex offender because he was convicted in another state more than 40 years ago of having oral sex.
Doe, who was represented by a coalition of civil rights attorneys, said Idaho's so-called “infamous crimes against nature” law was rendered invalid by a 2003 Supreme Court ruling that found a similar law out of Texas violated constitutional protections under the 14th Amendment.
Two other men were later added to the lawsuit, including one who was convicted in 1994 — shortly after he turned 18 — of having sex with two teen boys who were close to his age.
After the lawsuit was filed, the Idaho legislature repealed the “infamous crimes against nature” law but did not lift the sex offender registration requirement for people who were previously convicted.
In the settlement agreement, the Idaho State Police will remove the three men from the state's sex registry and expunge any records indicating that they were ever subject to the sex offender registry. The law enforcement agency also must create a policy so that other people with similar convictions can have themselves removed from the registry.
The state also has to pay $275,000 in legal fees for the men who sued.