BARTOW, Fla. — The Polk County obscenity case involving store owner Minakashiben Patel could go to trial, her lawyer says.
Patel last month was charged with10 counts each of distribution of obscenity and possession of obscenity with intent to sell after detectives purchased adult movies at the Sunoco Superway No. 6 gas station and convenience store she owns in Dundee, Fla.
Patel has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Adult industry attorney Lawrence Walters, Patel's attorney of record, told XBIZ on Tuesday that his firm is investigating the facts of the case and engaging in "standard potential plea negotiations" with the state attorney's office.
Walters wouldn't disclose his litigation strategy; however, he said that a shift in societal mores could help if the case is decided by Polk County jurors.
"If this case goes to trial, it will be fascinating to watch unfold, as the first obscenity case in the country filed after the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' phenomena," Walters said. "We may obtain a rare glimpse into whether jurors attitudes towards human sexuality have evolved since then, even in a conservative venue like Polk County, Fla."
However, Polk County's chief law enforcer, Sheriff Grady Judd, keeps the conservatism alive there.
Several years ago, Judd declared war on the production and distribution of porn in Polk County, arresting adult star Kimberly Kupps.
Kupps was charged with 13 felonies for violating the distribution and sale of obscene material and one for the wholesale promotion of obscene material for content on her namesake site, KimberlyKupps.com. Her husband also was charged with the same counts.
She and her husband both agreed to a plea deal over obscenity charges, adjudicating the pair guilty of a single misdemeanor offense and imposing a fine of $325.
After Kupps was arrested, Judd declared war on the production and distribution of porn in his county.
“We want a wholesome community here, we don’t want smut peddlers,” Judd said at the time, “and if they try to peddle their smut from Polk County or into Polk County, we’ll be on them like a cheap suit.”
But pornography isn't the only target with the long-time sheriff.
Just recently, the sheriff placed Backpage.com officials on notice that they will be investigated for "facilitating prostitution."
And in January, the Florida sheriff, with the help of his deputies and detectives, arrested 78 alleged prostitutes and johns, including a porn star he named as Asia.
“We didn’t catch her for a sex-related charge — we caught her with marijuana," Judd told the Daily Beast. "She said, ‘I’ve done 174 porn movies and I even give autographs.’ Who wants her autograph? She’s a legend in her own mind.”
Polk County — nestled between Tampa and Orlando and made up of orange groves, phosphate mines and small conservative towns — also is the site to some of the highest civil penalties related to prostitution. The county now charges $5,250 for some violations related to hooking.
“Our whole focus is quality of life,” Judd said. “It is all about keeping a healthy, happy community and looking out for the best interests of the prostitutes.”
A Polk County District Attorney spokesman did not immediately respond to XBIZ over questions relative to the charges against Patel.