Crime

Appeals court rejects judge’s order that a man not have sex without contraception

U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs had ordered Christopher J. Harris — the father of 10 children by seven women — to “not participate in any unprotected sex activities” without the approval of his probation officer. Not surprisingly, Harris appealed, and a federal appeals court ruled that the judge exceeded his authority when ordering the condition.
U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs had ordered Christopher J. Harris — the father of 10 children by seven women — to “not participate in any unprotected sex activities” without the approval of his probation officer. Not surprisingly, Harris appealed, and a federal appeals court ruled that the judge exceeded his authority when ordering the condition. The Wichita Eagle

A man’s proclivity for procreation prompted a federal judge in Kansas City to impose an unusual restriction on the man’s sex life after his release from prison.

The judge ordered Christopher J. Harris — the father of 10 children by seven women — to “not participate in any unprotected sex activities” without the approval of his probation officer.

Not surprisingly, Harris appealed. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs exceeded his authority when ordering the “novel” condition.

The appeals court found that the order was “not reasonably related” to the factors that govern sentencing in federal cases.

Harris, however, won’t be getting out of prison to celebrate Tuesday’s ruling anytime soon.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 15-year prison sentence Sachs imposed last year after Harris was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Harris, 32, is not eligible for release until 2026, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Sachs surprised everyone in the courtroom when he brought up the possibility of imposing the special condition of release on Harris, according to the appeals court’s ruling Tuesday.

Noting the number of children Harris had fathered, the judge opined that Harris was “creating a very serious social problem.”

Later in the hearing, Sachs again said it was a “social problem of apparently a great deal of unprotected sex.”

Harris and his attorney objected to the proposed condition, while prosecutors refrained from taking a position on what they termed “an unexpected situation.”

Sachs said he was not trying to target Harris and noted he had contemplated imposing similar restrictions in other cases “when there appears to be a problematic number of illegitimate children.”

A week after imposing the sentence and special condition of release, the judge clarified his decision in a written memorandum.

“The defendant shall use contraceptives before engaging in sexual activity that may otherwise cause pregnancy unless such use would violate his religious scruples or is expressly rejected by his sexual partner,” Sachs wrote.

He noted that the condition probably would be the subject of an appeal.

“Irresponsible sexual conduct by defendants under supervision greatly burdens women who may be unwilling to conceive children as well as offspring routinely abandoned by biological fathers,” Sachs wrote.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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