April 30, 2005

Court decision could free sexual offenders

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

By Robert Patrick
Of the Post-Dispatch
Friday, Apr. 29 2005

Dozens of people convicted of exposing their genitals to children could be
freed from prison or have their sentences reduced, based on a Missouri Supreme
Court decision this week clearing a former St. Louis elementary school
counselor and onetime Roman Catholic priest of such charges.

The court, in a 4-3 decision Tuesday, said there was not enough evidence to
convict James Beine of sexual misconduct involving a child by indecent
exposure. The court also said that the Missouri law was "patently
unconstitutional" because it is over-broad and could criminalize simply using a
public restroom.

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon said Friday that he would ask the state
Supreme Court to reconsider. Nixon has 15 days from the ruling to seek a

If that fails, those imprisoned on a sexual misconduct charge could ask the
courts to be released, Nixon said.

Stephen Easton, an associate professor at the University of Missouri Law
School, said the question then would be whether courts applied the ruling
retroactively. Judges could decide that it applies only to open cases, he said.
They also could say the decision clears everyone convicted of the crime - or
something in between.

Posted by kshaw at April 30, 2005 04:54 AM