Obscenity Prosecutor Retires

Rhett Pardon
HAMILTON, Ohio — An Ohio prosecutor whose specific duties were to fight obscenity has retired. With the retirement last month, the special unit to fight hardcore porn has disbanded, according to a report.

Steve Tolbert, who was tapped in 2001 to help Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper fight obscenity, has been replaced by Glenn Rossi, who will not be replacing Tolbert in terms of the job description, according to the Hamilton Journal-News.

“He’s not in charge of everything the same as Steve was in charge of," Piper told the Journal-News. "He won’t be taking the role Steve had identically."

No reason was given for the restructuring and calls to county prosecutors by XBiz.com were not returned.

Butler County saw a plethora of outrage in the last decade by a group called “Citizens for Community Values,” a Cincinnati anti-smut group that wanted to see more prosecutions of nearly a dozen Butler County businesses that sold adult-oriented videos.

Tolbert, who received a reported $90,000 annual salary, may have been victim to his case win-loss record. Juries have acquitted defendants of obscenity charges in three cases in recent years, according to the Journal-News.

“This little rogue county probably didn’t have the wherewithal to keep his salary,” said J.D. Obenberger, who represents adult entertainment-oriented businesses. “A prosecutor should be winning 90 percent of his cases. If you get a prosecutor who is losing three in a row, he may not have a job in the future.”

Butler County’s task force was created in 2001 to focus on child pornography, child predators, Internet trafficking of obscenity and illegal pornography and obscenity. The county allocated $120,000 to Piper for the obscenity task force. The task force's cost for a full year of operation was $200,000, partly funded by “Citizens for Community Values.”

Obenberger, meanwhile, said that the state that brought attention to Larry Flynt, Tracy Lords and John Holmes, should rejoice of Tolbert’s retirement.

“If Tolbert wants, I’ll help him out with his going-away party,” Obenberger said.