Old Law Makes Sanford's Affair Criminal

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford apologizes to his state agency chiefs for keeping them in the dark when he went to Argentina to see his mistress Friday, June 26, 2009, in Columbia, S.C. The Republican on Friday held his typical public meeting with the agency chiefs, but started with apologies and likening his confession and future to the biblical plight of King David. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain) AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's admitted extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina could cost him his job. It could cost him his marriage.

And, under an antiquated state law, it could also cost him up to $500 and a year in jail.

A state law that dates to at least 1880 says adultery is a crime, no matter where it occurred, and that adulterers "shall be severally punished."

But constitutional attorney John Harrell of Charleston says the law hasn't been used in decades, possibly not since 1907.

A spokeswoman for the State Law Enforcement Division says the agency can't waste limited money on trying to prosecute or arrest Sanford on such a charge. Jennifer Timmons notes there are murderers and other violent offenders to pursue.
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