U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced the charges Wednesday, saying that Karen Fletcher, who uses the pen name “Red Rose,” violated federal obscenity laws despite the fact that no pictures of children were displayed on the site.
"Use of the Internet to distribute obscene stories like these not only violates federal law, but also emboldens sex offenders who would target children," Buchanan said.
Buchanan said Fletcher’s site contained free excerpts of stories featuring child sex, murder and torture, with the full-length stories available to users for a fee.
Fletcher was charged with one count for each of six stories that involved the kidnapping, torture, sexual molestation and murder of children nine years and younger.
Federal agents executed a search warrant at Fletcher’s home in August 2005, seizing her computer. At the time she told authorities that she writes the bulk of the site’s stories, with about 40 other people contributing to the site as well.
According to an FBI search warrant affidavit, Fletcher told authorities that about 29 people had paid $10 per month in membership fees. She also described her work to law enforcement officers as a “fantasy site.”
If convicted, Fletcher faces a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine, but the actual sentence would be dictated by federal sentencing guidelines.
In 2003, Buchanan, a long-time proponent of Internet obscenity prosecutions, brought charges against Robert Zicari and his wife Janet Romano, who co-own Chatsworth, Calif.-based Extreme Associates. Both film content under the names Rob Black and Lizzie Borden.
The long-running federal obscenity case against Zicari, Romano and Extreme Associates is awaiting trial in U.S. District Court Judge Gary Lancaster’s courtroom for the second time after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case on appeal.