U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, the same official who secured the indictments of Extreme Associates and its owners, has turned her attention to a subject that many had thought long settled by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1966 decision in A Book Named "John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure" v. Attorney General of Massachusetts: Obscene text.
Apparently not. On Tuesday, Karen Fletcher, webmistress of a website which published "excerpts of stories about child sex, torture and murder that were available to all visitors" under the pen name "Red Rose," according to a story by Joe Mandak of the Associated Press, was indicted on six counts of obscenity trafficking. The government is also seeking to forfeit Fletcher's computer system and an undisclosed amount of money in addition to the potential $1.5 million fine she could receive if convicted – not to mention the 30 years in jail.
Fletcher's website, which apparently had all of 29 subscribers, charged $10 per month for customers to read fantasies consisting of "explicit stories about adults having sex with children," according to the FBI's search warrant which was executed in August of last year. At that time, the government seized Fletcher's computer containing the online stories, to which 40 writers alleged contributed.
"Fletcher was charged with one count for each of six stories that involved the kidnapping, torture, sexual molestation and murder of children 9 years and younger," according to Mandak. "Although Fletcher's site offers written works instead of videos, the case is similar to the one Buchanan filed against Extreme Associates, a California company that distributes videos simulating rape and murder."
With the charges against Extreme having been reinstated by the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where Buchanan argued that as to Extreme's allegedly obscene video clips, the community standards of the location where the clips were viewed would be the basis of the obscenity charges filed in that area, it was just a small step for Buchanan to claim that viewing sexually-explicit text stories that allegedly violated those same community standards could be a basis to indict those online series of words.
"Use of the Internet to distribute obscene stories like these not only violates federal law, but also emboldens sex offenders who would target children," Buchanan said.
Look for further analysis of this situation once a copy of Fletcher's indictment has been obtained.