- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A former Nebraska prison guard’s conviction for having a sexual relationship with a woman on parole will stand, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday.

Anoroy Loyuk, 29, appealed after he was convicted last year of sexual abuse of an inmate or parolee and sentenced to 18 months’ probation.

State law bars corrections employees from having sex with inmates or parolees, even if both parties consent. State prison officials have said guards control nearly every aspect of inmates’ lives and that such power leaves inmates and parolees legally unable to consent to sex with their overseers.

Loyuk argued in his appeal that the law’s definition of sexual abuse of an inmate or parolee is overly broad and violated his constitutional rights, given that he had no control over the woman while she was on parole. But the Nebraska high court rejected those arguments, finding that the law did not substantially interfere with Loyuk’s right to intimate association.

Loyuk was a guard at the Community Corrections Center in Lincoln - where inmates are held before being released on parole - at the time of his arrest. Court records indicated he and the woman had brief, casual contact while she was housed at the facility, but each denied there was any kind of intimate relationship while she was there.

Court records say Loyuk ran into the woman, who was on parole, at a Lincoln grocery store, and the two began an intimate relationship, later becoming engaged. Loyuk had no authority to punish the woman for any misconduct while she was a parolee, court records showed.

“Loyuk’s freedom to intimately associate with prisoners and parolees was curtailed, but he was not largely or absolutely prevented from forming intimate associations with the otherwise eligible population,” a unanimous court said in a per curium decision, which is not attributed to a particular judge.

Lancaster County Public Defender Joe Nigro said Friday his office believes state law should have been interpreted in such a way as to ban sexual relationships only between parolees and the state employees in direct supervision of those parolees.

The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office said the high court “correctly interpreted the statutes at issue,” spokeswoman Suzanne Gage said.

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