It’s 2010 — Why Are People Still Being Charged with Adultery?

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Suzanne Corona

Despite what The Onion might say, NewsFeed would venture that New York State contains more than its fair share of adulterers.

Though adultery has been a misdemeanor in New York for the past century, obviously the vast majority of cheaters go un-prosecuted: according to The Democrat and Chronicle only 12 people in the state have been charged with the crime since 1972.  So why was Suzanne Corona, a married woman in Batavia NY, the unfortunate 13th?

Corona was arrested Friday afternoon after being spotted canoodling on a public park bench with Justin Amend, her younger co-worker. The mother of one of the children playing in the park made the initial call. In a bit of Clintonian spin, Batavia police claim that the pair were having sex while Corona asserts that they were only performing a sexual act “fully clothed.” (The New York penal code defines the crime as “[engaging] in sexual intercourse with another person at a time when he has a living spouse, or the other person has a living spouse.”) Both were charged with public lewdness but only Corona had the additional adultery charge tacked on, which carries with it a penalty of up to 90 days in jail or a $500 fine.

A gender-based double standard? Perhaps, though the police say that Amend got off with the old ‘didn’t know she was married’ defense. Corona says that she will fight the charges, admitting that what she did was “inappropriate” but not technically sex. In a twist on the familiar ritual, Corona’s husband stood by her side during the press conference.

Adultery has been a misdemeanor in New York since 1907. The law was formed in response to a wave of collusive divorces that apparently swept over the state in the early 20th century.

Of the 12 people charged with adultery in the past four decades, none were jailed and only one was ever fined for the offense. In being named the 13th, it would appear that Corona was simply caught making out in the wrong place at the wrong time. NewsFeed advises cheaters who don’t wish to follow in her footsteps to confine their assignations to darkened stairways and seedy motels, where police presence is much less high. (via Gothamist)