Boy-lover fights savage sentence

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"I was sentenced for loving a boy under the age of consent," writes Robert Burdett Butler from the Nevada State Prison in Carson City where he is serving 21 consecutive life sentences plus 10 years. "I loved him, clothed him, fed him and nurtured him. He is a gay boy. Two lives have been devastated."

Nicky was 14 when Nevada District Court Judge Paul Goldman sentenced Butler to one life term for each of 21 counts of "sexual assault" that Butler allegedly committed with the boy. The state claimed that Butler and Nicky had mutual oral sex while Nicky was between 11 and 13 years of age. Butler does not dispute that the two had sex, though he denies having specific acts for which he was convicted; he did not even know Nicky, he assets, when the first sexual relations were alleged to have occurred. And whatever sex he and Nicky had, Butler says, was consensual.

Nicky is now 23 and lives on an Indian reservation in upstate New York near the Canadian border. According to a 1987 affidavit, he described his relationship with Butler as "mutual and consenting." Nicky, who had left Las Vegas with his mother after giving testimony at the trial, said he was shocked to learn that Butler was in jail and offered to send him the small savings the young man had accumulated pumping gas. According to the affidavit, Nicky had no idea the statement that he says police pressured him into signing would do anything but keep Butler from seeing him. [...]

A few days after sentencing Butler, Judge Goldman declared his candidacy for the Nevada Supreme Court, leading some to think the onerous punishment was intended as a vote-getting stunt. He lost the election, and in June 1988, became the first District Court judge in the history of the state to be removed from the bench. An ethics board charged him with "willful misconduct and habitual intemperance."

source: Article 'Boy-Lover Fights Savage Sentence' by Bill Andriette; NAMBLA Bulletin, vol. 10, n. 10; December 1989