Texas Bill Targeting Violent Sex Websites Shot Down

Rhett Pardon
AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas bill targeting online adult websites that depict violent sex acts was shot down Saturday; however, the legislator who initiated it vows to reintroduce it in January.

House Bill 1074, authored by Texas Rep. Betty Brown, would have made it a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine, to advertise or distribute violent sex tapes and photos on the Internet. The bill also targeted possession of such videos that would have imposed six-month sentences.

Texas’ broad obscenity laws are currently punishable by a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $500 fine.

"We're trying to keep these horribly, horribly obscene websites out of Texas," Brown said.

The Athens, Texas-based representative said the impetus for HB 1074 came from a sexual assault case in which the person convicted spoke about a website showing violent sex acts.

The legislator cited the case of Patrick Russo, a former youth minister who had a self-confessed passion for necrophilia and later killed a prospective home buyer.

Russo, who posed as a real estate agent, was found by detectives to be a subscriber “to one of the more gruesome of the sites.”

The bill would have made it illegal to depict obscene material constituting murder, capital murder, sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault.

The legislation aimed at "websites and other forms of medium" depicting violent acts for the purpose of sexual gratification. It also targeted affiliate webmasters who link to the websites.

The bill unanimously passed the Texas House last week but wasn’t heard by the Senate side of the Legislature on Saturday, its last day to hear the bill.

A Brown legislative aide on Monday told XBiz that the representative would reintroduce the bill in the next Legislature term. If the bill passes and goes into law, penalties would ramp up in 2007.