Former inmate files suit over anti-cohabitation law

By John O'Brien | Oct 5, 2006

CHARLESTON - A former inmate says the state's rarely enforced anti-cohabitation law is unfair and has filed suit against the state's Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, Division of Corrections and Director of Parole Services Delbert Harrison.

William Stanley filed the suit Sept. 18 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

He says he was granted parole on June 7, 2005, but was forced to remain behind bars for four months because the anti-cohabitation law prevented him from moving in with his fiancee.

The law says it is a misdemeanor for unmarried people to "lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together."

He had spent 11 ½ years in prison for five counts of forgery.

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia filed the lawsuit on behalf of Stanley, who also proposed living with his brother in Jackson County.

That plan was rejected, too, because the victims of his crimes lived in the same area, the complaint says.

Stanley was eventually placed at the Union Mission in Fairmont.

Six other states have an anti-cohabitation law. North Carolina's was recently found unconstitutional by a state judge.

Deborah Hobbs, a former employee of the Pender County Sheriff's Department in North Carolina, was told to get married, move out or find another job. Instead, she quit and filed suit against the law.

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