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Federal judge clears man put on sex offender list in 1993 for a crime that today is legal gay sex

Idaho man who was jailed for seven years for consensual sex at 18 with two 16-year-old boys wins right to no longer have to register as a sex offender

  • Randall Menges was placed on sex offender list 1993 conviction of a crime in Idaho that today is legal gay sex
  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that laws criminalizing consensual sodomy or oral sex were unconstitutional. 
  • This week, a federal judge in Montana cleared Menges’ record
  • Montana’s attorney general is appealing the decision 

A man who has been on the sex offender registry for decades after he was convicted of a crime in Idaho that today is legal gay sex was cleared by a federal judge in Montana this week. 

But the state’s attorney general is appealing the ruling, claiming it weakens the state’s sex offender registry law and opens it up to additional challenges from out-of-state lawyers. 

Randall Menges was 18 years old in 1993 when he was convicted of ‘crimes against nature’ for having sex with two 16-year-old boys, even though police reports said the activity was consensual and the legal age of consent in Idaho when a defendant is 18 is 16 years old. 

Menges spent seven years behind bars and was required to register as a sex offender. 

But U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said the state of Montana has no valid reason to require Menges to be on the registry and cited the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that said laws criminalizing consensual sodomy or oral sex were unconstitutional. 

Christensen wrote in his decision on Tuesday, ‘None of the governmental interests in maintaining a sexual offender registry are served by Menges’ inclusion.

‘Engagement in intimate sexual contact with a person of the same sex, without more, cannot be said to render someone a threat to the public safety,’ Christensen said. 

After the ruling, Menges said, ‘I guess I’m just grateful, honestly, that the judge actually listened and was fair because for the last few years of my life …. I don’t feel like anything’s been fair.’

Randall Menges, front, along with his attorneys Matthew Strugar and Elizabeth Ehret, outside the Russell Smith Federal Courthouse in Montana 

Randall Menges was 18 years old in 1993, when he was convicted of 'crimes against nature' for having sex with two 16-year-old boys, even though police reports said the activity was consensual and the legal age of consent in Idaho when a defendant is 18 is 16 years old

Randall Menges was 18 years old in 1993, when he was convicted of ‘crimes against nature’ for having sex with two 16-year-old boys, even though police reports said the activity was consensual and the legal age of consent in Idaho when a defendant is 18 is 16 years old

Elizebeth Ehret, one of Menges' lawyers, tweeted this after the federal court ruling

Elizebeth Ehret, one of Menges’ lawyers, tweeted this after the federal court ruling

Christensen ordered the state to remove Menges from the registry on or before May 21, expunge any records indicating he was ever subject to registration, and alert all agencies that may have been provided information about Menges’ registration. 

Elizabeth Ehret, one of Menges lawyers tweeted on May 12, ‘WE WON. Gay Montanans cannot be forced to register as sex offenders for consensual gay sex.’ 

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said the state of Montana has no valid reason to require Menges to be on the registry.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said the state of Montana has no valid reason to require Menges to be on the registry.

While Menges and his lawyers won the battle, they still have to fight a war. 

A spokesperson for the Montana’s attorney general said in a statement that it’s appealing the decision to protect the state’s sex offender laws from lawyers ‘who are more interested in politics than the safety of Montana children.’ 

Menges moved to Montana in 2018, hoping to start a new life, NBC News reported, but a 2005 state law says anyone on a registry in another state must register as sex offenders if they move to Montana. 

Another one of Menges’ lawyers, Matt Strugar, who challenged a similar law in Mississippi, told NBC News that there are probably hundreds of people in Menges’ predicament, and forcing them to register as sex offenders is a violation of their right to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. 

‘I’m outraged that in 2021 that we have what is essentially a registry of gay sex,’ Strugar told NBC News. 

‘If someone’s not a molester or a rapist, they shouldn’t be subjected to what I have,’ Menges said to NBC News. ‘If we can change the law, at least it’ll have been worth it.’ 

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