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Sentenced To Celibacy

A judge has ordered a teen-ager to remain celibate for two and a half years even though the youth wasn't charged with any sexual offense when he pleaded guilty to stealing handguns.

Brandon Stevens, 17, of Atkinson was sentenced to 30 months on probation, 180 days in jail and fined $2,000. Henry County Judge Clarke Barnes said Stevens will not have to serve the jail sentence if he successfully completes treatment at a halfway house and meets certain conditions, including the celibacy rule.

Barnes imposed the no-sex requirement Wednesday after learning that Stevens was sexually active.

In an interview Thursday with the Quad City Times, Barnes said: "There are a lot of good, logical reasons why this young man shouldn't be having sex with anyone's daughter.

He's got no job, no employment and no high school diploma. All you have to do is sit in my courtroom on Wednesdays and see the messes that come in juvenile court and you'll understand we don't need more kids fathered by people with this kind of background."

The judge said he does not expect everyone to agree with the sentence, but has not heard any complaints yet.

But the American Civil Liberties Union says Stevens' sex life is none of the judge's business.

"From a civil liberties standpoint, it is always cause for concern when the government attempts to regulate consensual sexual relationships between adults," said William Spain, public information director for the ACLU of Illinois.

Under Illinois law, a person is considered able to consent to sexual activity at age 17.

How to enforce Barnes' order remains to be seen.

"It's sort of a self-policing type of order," State's Attorney Ted Hamer said, adding that there is no way of knowing if Stevens abides by the order unless he impregnates someone or admits to having sex.

"Nobody's going to be spying on him or looking in windows. I think the judge just hopes he'll abide by the order," he said.

Stevens was one of three men who pleaded guilty last month to stealing handguns from a Geneseo home. Charges against four other defendants are pending.

Stevens' mother, Evie Rutherford of Geneseo, did not object to the sentence, saying she was simply pleased her son avoided jail time.

"I feel Judge Barnes was fair with my son in his sentence," she said.

Stevens' attorney, Hubert Pries, declined comment Thursday because he had not yet talked to his client about whether to appeal the sentence.

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