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Federal Judge Won't Dismiss Stagliano Obscenity Case

Federal Judge Won't Dismiss Stagliano Obscenity Case
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Feb 22, 2010 9:45 AM PST    Text size: 
WASHINGTON — A federal judge again has refused to dismiss obscenity charges against John Stagliano and his two production companies, Evil Angel Productions Inc. and John Stagliano Inc.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, in a memorandum opinion Friday, rejected their claim that federal obscenity laws are unconstitutional, saying that obscene material is not protected by the 1st Amendment.

"Having considered the defendants' overbreath of arguments, I am not convinced that such strong medicine is warranted in this case," Leon said. "Nor am I convinced that the federal obscenity statutes are unconstitutionally vague as applied to Internet speech.

"Finally, I reject the defendants' most sweeping claim — that the entire indictment is void because recent developments in Supreme Court case law guarantees the right to produce and distribute obscenity."

Stagliano and his companies were indicted on seven counts for illegal possession, distribution and sale of the obscene materials, but they claim that federal laws criminalizing the interstate trafficking of obscenity are unconstitutional.

FBI agents used the defendants' website to order two films, "Milk Nymphos" and "Storm Squirters 2 'Target Practice.'" An FBI agent in Washington also downloaded a free trailer called "Fetish Fanatic Chapter 5."

But, in an important notation, Leon said said he is certain that the online material will be judged "as a whole" and not individually according to obscenity laws, eliminating Stagliano's concerns that the trailer would be taken out of context.

With the ruling, federal prosecutors will have to show that the trailer is obscene in the context of the web page, Leon said.

But Leon rejected Stagliano's claim of a right to sexual privacy, saying such a right does not cover the distribution of obscene materials.

He said the producers' case "pales in comparison" and "does not even remotely approach" the sexual privacy cases concerning homosexual rights and rights to obtain birth control.

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