From our archive, 100 years ago
A bizarre case involving “gross lewdness” played out in a Spokane courtroom.
Two men and a woman – H. Courtney (sometimes spelled Courtway), a recently returned soldier, and George and Edith Fueston, a married couple – were all being tried on a “lewdness” charge for sleeping together in the same bed for three nights.
Courtney claimed that he had been under the impression that Edith was a single woman named Edith Brown. She wrote him letters while he was in the Army and he thought she was his sweetheart. When he returned to Spokane from active duty on the Mexican border, she greeted him at the depot by throwing her arms around him and kissing him. She urged him to come and stay at her house, which he did.
Courtney believed that George Fueston was Edith’s brother. All three slept in the same bed, although Courtney asserted on the stand that there was “nothing wrong in his relations” with Edith. However, there was some unspecified trouble during his stay. That’s when he learned that Edith was actually married to Fueston. Courtney left after three nights.
When he later returned for his clothes, he said that George Fueston attacked him and “made several attempts to chop off his head.” At that point, Courtney went to the police.
Courtney was so angry that he “expressed a willingness to go to jail” for his part in this love triangle as long as the “people who duped him were punished.”
All three were convicted of gross lewdness and sentenced to three months in jail.
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