JONESBORO, Ark. & HOUMA, La. — Several new obscenity prosecutions indicate that authorities in some localities are hunting down producers of allegedly obscene content through their online footprints.
Law enforcement in Jonesboro, Ark., and Houma, La., recently initiated two separate investigations after they received tips and probed adult websites for user-uploaded material that was taped in local public places. In both cases, they filed criminal charges.
“Obscenity cases have become rare in recent times, but these new prosecutions show that certain types of adult content can still get the attention of law enforcement,” attorney Larry Walters told XBIZ.
Walters, of Walters Law Group, said that while this public filming content may well be protected by the First Amendment, it is more likely to draw complaints from property owners or members of the public.
“When obscenity charges are brought, the legality of the material will be determined by the Miller Test, which can produce unpredictable results,” Walters said. “So, the concern extends beyond being 'caught in the act' of public filming, and now focuses on the legality of the erotic content, itself.”
In the Arkansas case, “MD,” and her husband were arrested after Jonesboro, Ark., police investigated numerous videos uploaded to porn tube sites.
The videos allegedly showed her pleasuring herself at a table of a local restaurant and using a sex toy on herself in a local Home Depot parking lot. Her husband reportedly filmed MD in the videos.
In the police report, authorities noted that MD promoted her videos through Twitter.
MD and her husband are each accused of three counts of public display of hardcore sexual activity, three counts of obscenity and three counts of promoting obscene performance.
In the Louisiana case, a married couple is facing six obscenity charges after they allegedly taped themselves having sex in a public library and then uploaded the video to their PornHub page.
Houma, La., Police charge that “EJ” and her husband “recorded themselves performing sexual activities on each other and uploaded them to a porn site.”
Police said that a review of the couple’s PornHub page contains more than 160 sexually explicit videos that depicted the couple engaged in sexual activity “in various other businesses throughout the City of Houma and Terrebonne Parish.”
The PornHub videos show EJ exposing herself and masturbating inside various businesses at the Southland Mall in Houma, a local Walmart and a Burger King, authorities said.
The library video includes similar explicit exploits and concludes with EJ performing oral sex on her husband in front of a periodicals rack.
The couple, each charged with six counts of obscenity, apparently had quite a following. Police said the videos were viewed more than 1.7 million times.
Walters said that industry attorneys have been concerned about filming explicit content in public places for some time now — especially those locations where minors might be present. He said that his firm routinely cautions clients about publishing or producing such content.
“This has been an issue for live webcam models and operators recently, with some highly publicized incidents resulting in public indecency charges,” he said.