In Virginia, cheating on your spouse is more than just a sin. As a Valley attorney learned, it's also against the law.
Longtime Luray town attorney John Bushey, Jr., was recently convicted of violating the little-known state law prohibiting adultery. The 65-year-old Bushey pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of adultery in October.
Adultery is rarely prosecuted in criminal court, and Harrisonburg attorney Franklin Blatt says he doesn't think many people realize it's a against the law.
"I just don't think that people focus on adultery as a criminal offense," said Blatt. "If it happens, it happens in the context of a marriage, and somebody is either charging adultery or defending adultery in the context of a divorce."
Another Harrisonburg attorney, Quinn Kaylor, says Bushey's conviction could complicate divorce cases, because it re-affirms that adultery is a criminal offense.
Kaylor says people may now be more inclined to assert their Fifth Amendment right against incriminating themselves when asked about extra-marital affairs during divorce cases.
Under Virginia law, adultery is a Class 4 misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $250.
"The legislature has identified it as a crime, the public policy of the state being to promote marriage, and not to promote divorce, and adultery is certainly an event that, as I've indicated before, tears at the very fabric of a marital partnership," said Blatt.
Bushey has appealed his conviction. A hearing is set for Jan. 27 in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.
Bushey has also resigned as Luray town attorney, a position he had held for 32 years.