Quantcast
National Edition

Legal leverage: Laws to fight pornography aren't being used, anti-porn activists say

Published: Tuesday, July 9 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

"Obscenity laws still exist?"

"With all the other problems we face, why are we spending taxpayers' money fighting porn?"

And her favorite: "Thanks for tackling this. Good luck."

The public's confusion and surprise was understandable and even part of her motivation, Buchanan said. The grand jury indictment of Extreme Associates and owners Robert Zicari (aka Rob Black) and Janet Romano (aka Lizzy Borden) represented the first federal obscenity case filed in nearly 10 years.

"Bringing these cases will remind the public that we do have laws that prohibit obscenity and those laws are enforceable," Buchanan said. "If (people) find this material, they don't have to accept it; they don't have to tolerate it; they can bring it to law enforcement."

Federal law prohibits selling, mailing, transporting, broadcasting, producing or transferring obscene material — which Extreme Associates was doing by mailing DVDs to a local Pennsylvania retailer, as well as offering Internet material that was being accessed in the community.

The couple was charged with 10 counts of production and distribution of obscene pornographic materials by mail and the Internet, which carried the potential for 50 years in prison and/or a $2.5 million fine.

Buchanan charged headlong into the case, relying on years of experience prosecuting child pornographers to propel her through six years of legal procedure that included a dismissal and a successful appeal to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which returned the case to the district court. The case ended with guilty pleas and a yearlong prison sentence for each defendant.

"I don't recall any other case during my entire career that took that much time and effort to obtain a judgment or conviction," Buchanan said. "When I compare this to all the drug and gun cases we did at this time, this one case had as much impact on the pornography industry … as hundreds of cases in some other area."

For a long time after the victory, Buchanan would get calls from defense attorneys who represented pornographers, asking if they were advising their clients correctly on what would and wouldn't fly in their films.

"What that showed me is they were taking the law seriously, which they had not for many years," Buchanan said. "They recognized that the law was still in effect, prosecutors were paying attention to it, and if producers violated it, there would be consequences."

During the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency and the beginning of George H.W. Bush's, adult obscenity prosecution was in full swing at the federal level, leading to a decrease in hardcore pornography and a sense of hesitancy on the part of pornographers, says Trueman, who headed up the Department of Justice office for years. Such success proved the laws were effective.

Yet, the Department of Justice hasn't filed an adult obscenity case since 2010.

The most recent adjudication came in January, when Ira Isaacs, a self-proclaimed "shock artist," was sentenced to four years in prison for his obscene films featuring bestiality and an obsession with feces.

Yet his case was filed six years ago, and had been winding through mountains of legal motions and three jury trials to get to the recent finish line.

“The department has brought numerous obscenity prosecutions in recent years, including the recent case against Ira Isaacs," said Peter Carr, Department of Justice spokesman. "However, we have focused our limited investigative and prosecutorial resources on the most egregious cases, particularly those that facilitate child exploitation and cases involving the sexual abuse of children, including obscene depictions of child rape. For that reason, the significant majority of the federal obscenity cases we have charged involve the exploitation of children.”

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS