Karen Fletcher Sentenced on Obscenity Charges

Stephen Yagielowicz
PITTSBURGH — "Red Rose" website owner Karen Fletcher was sentenced today after pleading guilty to six counts of distributing obscenity online.

Fletcher's plea concludes her three year fight against federal charges stemming from fictional stories which appeared on her website, and was entered before U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti, who sentenced Fletcher to six months of house arrest; 5 years of probation; and a $1,000 fine.

Pittsburgh is the same venue where the Extreme Associates obscenity case is being pursued, although no action has been taken in the case since August of last year.

XBIZ has reported on the Red Rose case since the the closure of Fletcher's website in October of 2005. It shuttered over stories that, among other topics, allegedly depicted the rape and torture of children and infants.

"I never thought I'd be in trouble for the written word," Fletcher told XBIZ at the time of her site's closure. "I had no pictures of a sexual nature on my site, adult or otherwise. [It seems] the only legal sex stories are those that involve a man and a woman consenting to missionary position sex in a dark room."

Although many observers doubted that an obscenity conviction based solely on text-only content could be made in today's society, Fletcher's emotional state, including suffering from agoraphobia — a fear of public places — reportedly prevented her from carrying on the fight for her free speech rights.

"This plea was mandated by the client's mental and emotional state. She cannot endure a week long trial in a public place, and would not likely survive any period of incarceration," Lawrence Walters, an attorney representing Fletcher, told XBIZ.

Fletcher helped prevent minors from accessing the Red Rose site by charging a $10 monthly membership fee, and while allowing the posting of stories by members, prevented any images from being posted.

"In the end, I am confident that Free Speech rights will prevail, but it will probably take somebody willing to sit in a federal prison while their case is being hashed out in the appellate courts," Walters added.