Conservatives Hope Goalie Case Lowers Obscenity Bar

Matt O'Conner
WASHINGTON — Many conservative groups are hopeful that the U.S. Justice Department’s mounting case against adult retailer Goalie Entertainment Holdings will offer government prosecutors an opportunity to lower the standards that must be met to obtain obscenity convictions.

On March 14, Goalie, its owner, Edward Wedelstedt and six others were indicted by a federal grand jury in Texas on 23 counts of racketeering, obscenity and tax evasion.

The obscenity charges stem from the sale of six videotapes and DVDs deemed by a grand jury to contain “patently offensive depictions of adults performing sexual conduct.” The titles named in the indictment are “American Bukkake 7,” “American Bukkake 8,” “Cumshots 4,” “Gangbang Angels 11,” “1 In The Pink, 1 In The Stink 5” and “Tits and Ass 8.”

Each obscenity count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to Jan LaRue, general counsel for Concerned Women for America, the fact that the grand jury named those six videos as obscene could spell trouble for the adult entertainment industry.

“The videos are the kind of hard core pornography anybody can buy right off the shelf,” LaRue said. “They don't involve the sort of bondage, rape and excretory subjects that [Justice] has been focused on. They've gotten the bar [of what’s considered obscene] down.”

LaRue said her hope is that the extent of the charges against Wedelstedt will prompt him to submit a guilty plea in an attempt to get a lighter sentence, thereby setting a precedent for future obscenity cases.

“This is the one we’ve been waiting for,” said LaRue.

But First Amendment attorney J.D. Obenberger told XBiz that LaRue is wrong on all counts.

Obenberger said new sentencing guidelines have made it less likely that defendants will enter guilty pleas and that even if the government does obtain a conviction in Texas, it will not have any impact on future cases in other areas of the country, since obscenity must be determined based on community standards.

“I think they’re going to be in for a rude awakening,” Obenberger said.