The Scarlet Letter: New York Woman Charged With Adultery

New York prosecutors have charged a woman with criminal adultery after she was arrested allegedly during a tryst with a man in a public park. Suzanne Corona, 41, is the 13th person charged with adultery in New York since 1972. I have previously written about the unconstitutionality of these laws.

Corona from Batavia, N.Y. allegedly was found on a picnic table near a playground having sex with Justin Amend, 29, at 5 pm. While it is not unknown to have couples going to parks for trysts, such an act at 5 pm near a playground would be pretty shocking. Police say that there were parents and children nearby.

They were charged with public lewdness — a reasonable charge under the circumstances. However, prosecutors tacked on an adultery charge for Corona when they discovered she was married.

When confronted, the couple insisted that they were “just talking.”

Genesee County District Attorney Larry Friedman is pressing the charge despite the fact that it is facially unconstitutional. I have previously written how these morality laws should be removed from the books, particularly after the decision in Lawrence v. Texas. Notably, Corona told officers that her husband was “transgender” and that they no longer had intimate relations. She should challenge the law and I expect that she would prevail. It is shows a distinct lack of prosecutorial judgment to bring such a charge in 2010.

As noted in my prior columns (here and here and here), she is not alone in facing such a charge.

For the full story, click here and here.

35 thoughts on “The Scarlet Letter: New York Woman Charged With Adultery

  1. “criminal adultery”?

    Now, if the accused had bathed more than once during the week and if the bath had been drawn on any days other than Saturday, they can probably lock her up for life.

  2. Blouise that only applies in Ohio and Illinois and it is still against the law (unless modified) to take a bath from September to April, unless in a heated area more than once a month. This law could have been modified as some people were attempting to get stupid ones off of the book.

    I wonder how Michael Cox’s the Attorney General of Michigan was able to escape Prosecution for Adultery?

  3. Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart! Else it may be their miserable fortune, when some mightier touch than their own may have awakened all her sensibilities, to be reproached even for the calm content, the marble image of happiness, which they will have imposed upon her as the warm reality.

    ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Chapter XV “Hester and Pearl”

    A bit idealistic, but seemingly apropos. Either way, the writing is worth reading again and again.

  4. oh puhleeeeeeze!

    I know, don’t take these things off the books until EVERY politician has been perse…uhm, i mean prosecuted for their indiscretions.

    And what did the injured party…her husband the transgendarme have to say about it?

  5. As I mentioned last time, there are two potential justifications I can think of for an adultery law, post-Lawrence. First, that there is an unwilling participant in the act: the cheated-upon spouse. Second, that an oath presented to and depended upon by the government has been broken.

    But even at its strongest, such a law should require said spouse to press charges before the government steps in. (The oath portion is trickier, and it’s here that I think Turley might have it right when he promotes disconnecting marriage from the law entirely. Then it’s REALLY not the government’s business whether the union collapses down the road because someone can’t keep his or her pants on.)

    I also grant Appleton’s point from last time that treating the matter as a contract breach is an alternative — although contract law doesn’t allow for the emotional distress factor that’s likely in the event of adultery. Buckeye’s alternative of a tortuous suit for distress might be a good supplement but I don’t think you can mix and match like that.

  6. I don’t know about Illinois, but here in Ohio we get the wood stove going in the kitchen, heat the water, pull the blinds and do our bathing on Saturday night. Then we’re ready for Sunday.

    It must not be against the law, ’cause everybody does it and no one has been arrested so far. Of course that could be because the police are also bathing then.

  7. “When confronted, the couple insisted that they were “just talking.”’


    Well, sum folks is very animated a’talkin’ whilst flailing they arms n’ legs n’ other parts ’bout.

    A more subtle, whisperin’ type of love talk whilst parkin’ n’ sparkin’ on benches n’ public is noted in this late 50s early 60s tune by several artists, including the great Bobby Vee:

  8. AY,

    Au contraire mon frere!

    In Detroit, Michigan it is illegal to sleep in a bathtub. But in Brooklyn, New York it is only illegal for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs.

    Whereas in Ohio:

    Women are forbidden from wearing patent leather shoes, lest men see reflections of their underwear. … and … AND:

    It is illegal to get a fish drunk.

    But the best law of all is in New York where:

    Women may go topless in public, providing it is not being used as a business.
    (The New York City Transit Authority has ruled that women can ride the city subways topless. New York law dictates that if a man can be somewhere without a shirt, a woman gets the same right. The decision came after arrests of women testing the ordinance on the subways. A transit police spokesman said they would comply with the new rule, but “if they were violating any other rules, like sitting on a subway bench topless smoking a cigarette, then we would take action.” Smoking is not allowed in the subways.)

  9. Buckeye,

    Some of my neighbors here in Ohio also keep a bar of soap handy by the back door in case of a “summer shower”. We call ’em the clean freaks.

  10. If’n Ms Corona’s case goes to trial, I hope hern’ public defender aint a hooked on oldies, sentamental feller. He might over-advocate by sayin’ that the picnick table talk weren’t mo’ than juss sweet nothins’

    By Baby whispers in my ear, ooohh sweet nothins’

  11. Another example of overcharging by a prosecutor, probably for plea bargaining purposes. Ms. Corona’s “just talking” defense won’t cut it, unless she can convince a jury that she is inarticulate unless she relies upon body language to convey her thoughts, a variation on traditional sign language. At bottom, however, I am convinced that the law is unconstitutional.

  12. Everything I know about the law has come from watching episodes of Law and Order. Rest assured, my friends, that the addition of the adultery charge was a cunning ploy by the prosecutor to leverage a confession or even to coerce dangerous information about orthogonal crimes intersecting this case. In a myriad of conspiratorial connections and fractally felonious foulness. To the Batcave!

  13. Blouise

    My Catholic in-laws told me the nuns wouldn’t allow patent leather shoes at their schools for the same reason. Must be something to it. And they were in Michigan!

    No need to wait for a shower. That’s what creeks are for.

    This seems to be a use of the law not to protect, but to punish.

  14. Another old song in defense of Ms. Corona as plea to the judge by her counsel. (Well, at least I did not use ‘MacArthur Park’ and the bit about the cake…)

    She was strollin’ through the park one afternoon
    In the merry, merry month of June
    She was taken by surprise by a pair of roughish eyes
    And the fault of her desires were all the guy’s

  15. “— although contract law doesn’t allow for the emotional distress factor that’s likely in the event of adultery. Buckeye’s alternative of a tortuous suit for distress might be a good supplement but I don’t think you can mix and match like that.”

    I don’t think a spouses tryst in the park is even close to a spouse transgendering themselves whilst in a supposed committed relationship, on the emotional distress meter that is. In fact, Ms. Things tryst could well have been an acting out of deep seated anguish and anger at her spouse for denying her the nuptial obligatory stuff, sans picnic table.

  16. Buckeye


    … No need to wait for a shower. That’s what creeks are for.


    True, but that would be bathing …..

    (My in-laws were also Catholic.)

  17. The pair allegedly were having sex on a picnic table near a playground in Farrall Park just after 5 p.m. on Friday, according to WHAM 13.

    I just love the name of the TV Station and why was the man not charged with conspiracy to commit adultery if she was charged with the main crime…..just sayin’….

  18. So Blouise, I suppose by being catholic, your in-laws, they were in the position of (or as a) missionary a number of times?

  19. Here in Michigan, if an unmarried man has sex with a married woman, he’s guilty of adultery as well. On the other hand, the spouse has to file a complaint before prosecution can begin (MCL 750.29-750.32).

    While we’re at it, Michigan has laws against blasphemy (MCL 750.102-750.103), “lewd and lascivious cohabitation” (shacking up, I guess — MCL 750.335), swearing in front of women or children (MCL 750.337 — there’s at least on prosecution on this one I’m aware of, and the Michigan Supreme Court upheld the law), and gross indecency (MCL 750.338-750.338b). Oh, and despite Lawrence, Michigan’s sodomy law remains on the books (MCL 750.158). Having read the law, it seems to me (although I stand to be corrected by an attorney as necessary) the law is unconstitutionally vague. I’ve read statutes (Missouri’s for one) that went into great detail about the prohibited conduct. Michigan, not so much. It just prohibits “the abominable and detestable crime against nature.” Would someone please explain to me what conduct is being described here?

  20. Blouise and Buckeye,
    The nuns did have the patent leather shoe rule. The play that came out called ” Do Patent Leather Shoes really reflect up?” was a parody on that rule. We were also not allowed to have boy-girl parties through 8th grade. To say they were a little crazy on the sex issue is an understatement.

  21. Don K

    It is illegal to loiter in the city morgue in Detroit.

    One wonders what sort of behavior prompted that law.

  22. Anonymously Yours,

    Considering that my father-in-law was a good ol’ Baptist boy from Texas who converted to Catholicism in order to marry my mother-in-law, one can imagine a certain creativity was employed.

    (You know, I set you up beautifully with the one liner “In New York it is only illegal for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs.” I was rather disappointed that you didn’t take it.)

  23. rafflaw,

    Here’s a law from South Dakota that must have been written by a nun.

    In hotels in Sioux Falls, every room is required to have twin beds. And the beds must always be a minimum of two feet apart when a couple rents a room for only one night. And it’s illegal to make love on the floor between the beds!

  24. So this woman’s actual husband is or has gone transgender, and therefore she was so twitchy she had to do it with her guypal on a picnic table in broad daylight? Gives a whole new meaning to “desperate housewives.”

  25. Shouldn’t Giuliani be arrested for adultry. Even if he wasn’t caught in the act, he has obviously confessed to it in a number of ways.

  26. In hotels in Sioux Falls, every room is required to have twin beds. And the beds must always be a minimum of two feet apart when a couple rents a room for only one night. And it’s illegal to make love on the floor between the beds

    so the nightstand between the beds, the dresser the tv is on, the bathroom sink, and the shower are all ok?

    ya had me worried for a minute there.

    can’t we just bring back stoning?

  27. As someone said before, indecent exposure should be the charge, if any. If there weren’t any kids around at the time, I wouldn’t even bother with that if I were the prosecutor. The issue of her transgendered husband isn’t really relevant.

  28. “When confronted, the couple insisted that they were “just talking.”

    I think they meant to say it was just the tequila talking:

  29. The UCMJ still criminalizes adultery. While I am loathe to accept the encroachment of government into the bedroom of private citizens, the military is one place where I think this kind of law is unfortunately necessary.

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