Wyoming Supreme Court

The Wyoming Supreme Court building, pictured March 29 in Cheyenne.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

The Wyoming Supreme Court could choose to review the state’s laws regarding sexual assault in detention centers after a Casper attorney representing a woman charged under those laws argued that they are unconstitutional.

Attorney Thomas Smith is representing Andrea Morgan, a Casper woman facing two felony sexual assault charges for allegedly having a sexual relationship with an inmate at the Casper Re-Entry Center while she worked there as a contract health services administrator. All details in available court documents appear to show the relationship was consensual.

In court filings, Smith argues that the applicable statutes violate defendants’ state and federal due process rights because they are overly broad and do not differentiate between public and private locations or take into account consent.

Wyoming law forbids sexual contact between inmates of any corrections facility and any person who works or volunteers at the facility, even if the sex is between two consenting adults.

“The compelling state interest is prevention of prison rape — not prevention of consensual sex between adults,” Smith wrote. “Instead of being narrowly tailored to prevent prison rape, the statutes are a broad prohibition of consensual sex between adults. The statutes as written may catch a few rapists, but the statutes also catch the more innocent, the unwary or unwise.”

Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey agreed at a hearing Thursday to send Smith’s issues with the law to the Wyoming Supreme Court. The court will then decide whether to review the questions at hand.

“I’ll just say I wouldn’t do this unless there was some basis to ask the Supreme Court to consider it,” Forgey said after making his decision. “In the end, I think it’s worth asking.”

Investigators with the Wyoming Department of Corrections alleged that Morgan and the inmate, who is not named in charging documents, held hands and kissed while he was living at the private correctional facility. They also alleged that the two had sex at a private home the night he was released on parole – the day before she submitted her resignation from the facility.

Smith also wrote that previous Wyoming case law recognized that sexual relations between consenting adults are a “fundamental and protected liberty.”

“How absurd to say an adult felon cannot consent to sex with another adult?” he wrote.

Assistant District Attorney did not file a response to Smith’s request prior to the hearing Thursday.

Smith and Johnson will now create a document outlining the legal issues to send to the Supreme Court. After it receives the document, the Court will have 30 days to decide whether to review the issue.

Follow crime and courts reporter Elise Schmelzer on Twitter @eliseschmelzer

0
0
0
0
0

Features Editor

Elise Schmelzer joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 after graduating from the University of Missouri and interning at newspapers around the country. As features editor, she oversees arts and culture coverage and reports stories on a broad variety of topics.

Load comments