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An Open Invitation

An Open Invitation

October 26, 2005
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" he had been armed with a sawed-off shotgun "

Brittany Andrews woke up one morning and knew something didn't feel right.

"I had this stalking problem and woke up that morning really nervous," Andrews said.

As an adult performer, Andrews has her share of experience with obsessive fans and unwanted attention from strangers. But on that day, she felt frightened enough to sit in her apartment for several hours with a can of Mace and a knife at hand. Eventually, she called a friend for assistance.

"My friend saw this guy that was stalking me," she said. "My friend went after him, didn't catch him and we called the cops. I didn't know he had a gun or anything."

Unaware that the stalker was lurking in the apartment stairwell, Andrews said she learned afterwards — from a security camera video — he had been armed with a sawed-off shotgun.

A 1998 survey co-sponsored by The National Institute of Justice and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the effects of stalking in America. The study found that one in 12 women will be stalked during her lifetime (as opposed to one in 45 men), and more than 1 million women are stalked annually. Only 55 percent of female victims reported stalking to the police.

Seventy-seven percent of female victims were victimized by "simple obsession" stalkers, or perpetrators they knew from a prior relationship. "Love obsession" stalkers fall into another category. They target a casual acquaintance or total strangers; this type of stalker often becomes obsessed with celebrities. Desperate to form relationships with their victims, they create delusional fantasies with expectations of how victims will respond. If victims do not react as hoped for, the stalkers' behavior may turn intimidating or violent.

Andrews was acquainted with her stalker. But as a web mistress and content producer, she expressed concerns about revised 2257 regulations requiring primary producers to supply personal identification information to secondary producers or other persons seeking to purchase explicit content. "The way it used to be, only a primary producer would have that kind of information," Andrews said. "Which is my Social Security number. Which is my home address. Which is my phone number... For a small price, a stalker can say that he's a webmaster and get all of my personal information."

First Amendment attorney J.D. Obenberger raised further issue over 2257 regulation requirements for posting access to the "keeper of records" name and address information on websites featuring explicit content. "If the producer is a single woman on a small budget," Obenberger said, "this necessarily means her own name and address, and this does compromise her privacy in a very direct and dangerous way."

Justice's Take
The Department of Justice, during the commentary period for the revised 2257 regulations published in the Federal Register, declined to adopt comments from 62 commenters regarding privacy issues for adult performers and businesses. Citing that concerns about exploitation of children outweighed concerns about "possible crimes against performers and businesses," Justice also stated that the record-keeping requirements for primary producers for performers' personal information were "no different from that required by other forms of employee or business records."

One commenter "proposed that secondary producers be required to store sanitized (i.e., without personal information such as a home address) hard or digital copies of performers' identification along with a notarized affidavit from the primary producer stating the location of complete records." Justice declined to adopt this comment, stating that "the suggested plan would be overly burdensome on primary producers and add an unnecessary layer of complexity to the record-keeping process."

While sensitive to privacy issues, industry attorney Eric Bernstein indicated that compliance with 2257 record-keeping requirements could be viewed as a case of "better safe than sorry."

"Even if the courts rule a secondary producer is not required to keep records in the form that [Justice] requested, I think most secondary producers should request it anyway to ensure that they have compliant material," Bernstein said.

The question remains unanswered. Should adult performers or mainstream celebrities be exposed to a higher level of risk regarding their right to privacy because their occupation places them in the spotlight?

According to XBiz columnist Gregory Piccionelli, a First Amendment attorney currently working on the legal team representing the Free Speech Coalition in its lawsuit against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, it is precisely because of the sensitive nature of the adult industry that performers and businesses should be allowed a heightened level of privacy in order to shield themselves from stalkers, extremist groups and other potentially harmful public scrutiny.

"I don't think that because Tom Cruise stars in 'Mission Impossible' that I have the right to know where he lives," Piccionelli said.

He commented further:"I think that the unfortunate reality here is that the amended law is not only exposing these performers to sexual predators and deviants but also exposing them to the undermining of court orders that have been issued to protect them against other violent people. And you're also exposing them to the religious zealots, which we have seen in the pro-choice/pro-life debate, can erupt into murder."

Many adult performers, like model/dancer/actress Montana Gunn, use a common sense approach to dealing with security issues. When appearing in public, Gunn said: "I always have bodyguards or protection with me. I always listen to those people."

But common sense may not be enough. San Diego Deputy District Attorney Rachel Solov is an expert in the area of stalking. "The most important thing to do," said Solov, "is to report [stalkers] to law enforcement, so that people can watch out for them.

"If you're going to be putting yourself out there," she added, "especially in the adult entertainment industry, I think it's not unexpected that, sometimes, it may lead to something like that. You just need to be really vigilant about protecting your personal information."


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