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Group Fights 19th-Century Sex Laws

November 14, 1997

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) _ Howard Fletcher is an adulterer and he wants everyone to know it.

The 65-year-old Fletcher, surrounded by models in black bikini bottoms and ``Sex Instructor″ T-shirts, challenged the state Thursday to prosecute him for having oral sex in a hotel room with a woman who’s not his wife.

The stunt was designed to spark a legal challenge to Florida’s 19th-century sex laws against open adultery, lewd and lascivious cohabitation, and performing unnatural and lascivious acts.

``Every one of these things is religion-based,″ said Fletcher, the executive secretary of the National Sexual Rights Council Inc., which is funded in part by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

``Adultery is a law that comes directly from the time that women were owned by men.″

Fletcher said his wife of 17 years, whose name he didn’t give, was aware of his activities in Florida while she remained at their home in Juneau, Alaska. The other woman, also unidentified, was a longtime friend.

Fletcher’s case was to be the beginning of the legal challenge. He confessed to Boca Raton police that he had violated the laws.

The state attorney will determine if charges should be filed, said police Capt. Ken Pachnek. The charges would be misdemeanors. A spokesman for State Attorney Barry Krischer declined to comment.

The council also has formed the Florida Personal Privacy Initiative, a group seeking to amend the Florida Constitution so ``no act of sexual intimacy committed in private between consenting persons above the age of majority shall be prohibited by law.″

The initiative committee must collect at least 500,000 signatures of voters, and the language of the proposed amendment must be approved by the Florida Supreme Court before it is put on the ballot.

Elliot Shaw, a West Palm Beach lawyer and committee chairman, said he wants the initiative on the ballot for the general election next year.

The group also plans to ask a court to order the Florida tourism industry to warn visitors about the state’s sex laws.

``This is a tourist state. We’re bringing in millions of people and not warning them they’re criminals,″ Shaw said.

Lewd and lascivious cohabitation was made illegal in 1868, and open adultery followed in 1874. The ``unnatural and lascivious act″ statute was revised in 1993.

While the laws are not commonly enforced, the threat of prosecution is frequently used in divorce cases, Shaw said.

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