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Idaho settles anti-sodomy lawsuit

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After more than two years in court, the state of Idaho has settled a case with three men on its sex offender registry convicted of so-called “crimes against nature.”

One of the men, Randall Menges, was convicted in 1994 for having sex with two 16-year-old boys shortly after he turned 18. That would not meet the state’s definition of statutory rape today.

Another man, who initially filed the suit and remains anonymous, was convicted of performing oral sex on his wife in another state. Idaho’s sex offender registry requires people to register if they’ve been convicted of “substantially similar” crimes elsewhere that are outlined in state code.

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court found anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional, but Idaho continued to enforce its policy for nearly two decades through its sex offender registry.

The settlement requires the state to remove these two men and one other from the list and create a policy that others with similar convictions can use to remove themselves as well.

Idaho State Police, which oversees the registry, must remove those who qualify within 21 days of the settlement. It's not immediately clear how many people might qualify. A spokesperson for Idaho State Police didn't immediately return a request for comment.

As of December 2020, 41 people were listed with Idaho's sex offender registry for violating these laws — 21 of them in state and 20 who were convicted out of state.

“This settlement provides a remedy not just for our two clients, but also for a third man who has also been a victim of this decades-long, state-sanctioned homophobia,” said Matthew Strugar, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

About a year after filing the lawsuit, a federal judge sided with the plaintiffs, saying the state had “no legitimate interest” in forcing the men to register as sex offenders.

The Idaho Attorney General’s office appealed that decision to the 9th Circuit, but ultimately settled the case.

A spokesperson for the attorney general declined to comment.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!