June 24, 2009
Sanford's 'crime against morality'
Posted by: Chris
Following the admission by Republican Gov. Mark Sanford that he had disappeared to Argentina as part of an extramarital affair, some have been minimizing the legal dimension of his offense. Unlike Republican Sen. David Vitter (La.), who admitted to having sex with a prostitute, the South Carolina governor hasn't broken any laws.
That may be untrue under South Carolina's penal code:
Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses
OFFENSES AGAINST MORALITY AND DECENCY
SECTION 16-15-60. Adultery or fornication.
Any man or woman who shall be guilty of the crime of adultery or fornication shall be liable to indictment and, on conviction, shall be severally punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than one year or by both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court.
SECTION 16-15-70. "Adultery" defined.
"Adultery" is the living together and carnal intercourse with each other or habitual carnal intercourse with each other without living together of a man and woman when either is lawfully married to some other person.
The crime of adultery is listed along side not just prostitution, but bigamy and incest. I wonder if his relationship with his mistress will be compared to a same-sex marriage. The prohibition against "buggery" remains on the books in South Carolina in the same section of the criminal code.
Without additional information about the extent of "carnal intercourse" between the governor and his Eva Peron, it's impossible to know if it was so "habitual" as to constitute the crime of adultery. Also unclear is whether the South Carolina criminal prohibitions against adultery and fornication survive the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence vs. Texas, striking down state sodomy statutes.
No doubt Sanford disagreed strongly with the Lawrence ruling, at least until recently.
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