Steve Sweet Acquitted on All Charges

Gretchen Gallen
VANCOUVER, B.C –Steve Sweet, president of Sweet Entertainment Group, was acquitted on all counts of obscenity by a Canadian trail judge last week. Charges stemmed from the distribution of 11 fetish videos that Canadian lawmakers deemed obscene at the time of Sweet's indictment.

Sweet was charged with obscenity on Dec. 6 for combining explicit sex content with violence, torture, and cruelty. He was arrested with three other employees from his company.

Three weeks into the trial, Judge R.R. Low determined based on the advent of the Internet since 1995, that the availability of sexually explicit material has become widespread, mainstream, and requires a certain amount of participatory involvement from the viewer, which in effect would qualify as consensual involvement in the viewing of certain types of explicit or violent content.

The judge also determined that BDSM culture is part of "normal and acceptable adult sexual behavior."

After viewing several examples of fictional work presented by the defense like "American Psycho" and "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," that depicted similarly violent content as seen in Sweet's 11 videos, the judge determined that "there was little to distinguish the sexual explicit violence portrayed in the fictional materials from the sexual violence portrayed in the 11 videos."

Based on that assessment and expert witnesses, the judge acquitted Sweet on all 20 counts.

However, according to Chicago lawyer J.D. Obenberger, under Canadian laws, acquittals can be appealed, although it is not yet known if the prosecution will continue to pursue the case.

In Obenberger's words, Sweet's attorney, Paul Kent-Snowsell, did an excellent job of presenting the Sweet defense to the Crown by illustrating that BDSM is a no longer a taboo practice in Canada.

"It appears that Paul did a masterful job of putting on a massive and overwhelming case demonstrating conclusively the degree to which bondage, domination, and S&M literature and practice is practiced in a widespread fashion in Canada," Obenberger told XBiz. "Ever single thing he did in the defense is precisely what will be done by America lawyers in similar cases."

Obenberger pointed out specifically that Kent-Snowsell presented clear and convincing evidence of the mainstream acceptance of BDSM and the people, clubs, publications, and content that represent this popular pornography genre and its widespread dissemination over the Internet.

In proving to the Crown that BDSM is infact a far more acceptable form of entertainment than previously thought, Kent-Snowsell did an in-court Google search, showing the judge that more than 100,000 websites are currently dedicated to BDSM.

"All of these things can and should be done in an obscenity defense," said Obenberger, who added that the judge was reportedly shocked by the prevalence and volume of such material. Obenberger was not present at the trial, but he has read all court papers related to the trial.