Dozens of Missourians convicted of exposing their genitals to children could be freed from prison or have their sentences reduced, based on a Missouri Supreme Court decision clearing a former St. Louis elementary school counselor and onetime Roman Catholic priest of such charges, according to that city’s Post-Dispatch. The court, in a 4-3 decision, 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 he would ask the state Supreme Court to reconsider. Nixon has 15 days from the ruling to seek a rehearing. If that fails, those imprisoned on a sexual misconduct charge could ask the courts to be released, Nixon said. A legal expert said question then would be whether courts applied the ruling retroactively. Data on the number of people serving prison time under the statute was not available, but interviews indicated dozens of people have been convicted of the same crime.