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Virginia Adult Store Owners Indicted for Obscenity

Virginia Adult Store Owners Indicted for Obscenity
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Wednesday, Nov 8, 2006    Text size: 
NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — Two owners of the Virginia sex shop Pheromoans were indicted on three misdemeanor charges of violating the state’s obscenity laws. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

In Virginia it’s a crime to sell adult movies but not to buy or posses them.

Detective John Hughes began his investigation into Lesley Mason and Meagan Pacheco’s Pheromoans store on Oct. 23 when he purchased “Barely Legal Hotties” and one other adult film. Another detective returned later that day and purchased two more adult films, according to court records.

On a subsequent Oct. 27 trip, detectives purchased “The Devil in Miss Jones” and “Deep Throat,” two classics from the Golden Age of adult film. The Gerard Damiano-directed “Deep Throat” was successfully used in an obscenity prosecution in Stafford 20 years ago, according to Stafford prosecutor Jim Peterson.

Given the relatively tame sexual acts depicted in both classic films, 1st Amendment Attorney Lawrence Walters found their selections in an obscenity bust to be strange.

“Both movies have been around for decades and now are part of American culture,” Walters told XBIZ. “This might be part of an intentional strategy by the prosecutors, because the bar will be set very low for what constitutes an obscene work if they get a conviction.”

Additionally, Walters said that the inclusion of “Deep Throat” in obscenity cases has resulted in both convictions and acquittals, so while there is precedent for the case to move forward, the defense can successfully use a counterargument.

Hughes said that the purchased movies “have a dominant theme, which is prurient in nature,” according to an affidavit for a search warrant.

Peterson told Frederiksburg.com, a local news site, that the police investigation was “spurred by complaints from the community.” Stafford has not pursued an obscenity case since the 1980s.

Free Speech Coalition Board Chair Jeffrey Douglas believes the prosecutors might be politically motivated to obtain an obscenity conviction.

“One aphorism I use is, an obscenity prosecution occurs at the convergence of politics and idealogy,” Douglas told XBIZ. “Announcing the indictment on the eve of an election is a political stunt. Given that ‘Deep Throat’ and ‘The Devil in Miss Jones’ are plot-driven stories that are part of pop culture makes this case fascinating and one the industry should watch.

“It’s hard to imagine in this day and age that ‘Deep Throat’ and ‘The Devil in Miss Jones are prosecutable in a county that’s not being run by the Taliban.”

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