Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jury Verdict Prompts Madison County to Warn Shops on Porn

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jury Verdict Prompts Madison County to Warn Shops on Porn

Article excerpt

ON THE STRENGTH of a jury's obscenity verdict, Madison County officials are warning store owners to check their inventory for magazines and even videos that could be targeted for prosecution.

Some police departments already have talked to merchants, and other departments are planning to because of the jury's decision Nov. 21 to convict an owner for selling obscene magazines. State's Attorney William R. Haine is offering the county's anti-obscenity ordinance to any city interested in passing a comparable law.

"The verdict indicates that the county is not hospitable to `anything goes,' " Haine said. "I believe it is a healthy sign that there are 12 people who have the good sense and the moral fortitude to say that, `Yes, some things are obscene and beyond the law.' " He said he does not expect a massive campaign against pornography. But he said more complaints from residents are likely now that a standard for obscenity has been established by the verdict. That case was the first of four obscenity investigations to draw an indictment when presented to grand jurors in recent years, he said. Although some of the material the grand jurors did not find obscene included adult videos, Haine said the standard set by the verdict now could apply to them as well as magazines. He also warned merchants to remember that selling to minors any adult magazine or video - even those ruled legal by court decisions - was a criminal offense. Before returning the verdict, the jury examined 11 magazines sold at t he Soft Touch adult store near Edwardsville. The jury convicted owner Terry L. Wernle, 46, of Marine, on misdemeanor obscenity charges for nine of them. Wernle drew a fine of $4,500. His attorney said he would appeal the convictions. The jurors said they were surprised by the graphic material and offended by the way it degraded women. Although they acquitted Wernle on two of the magazines they said did not fit the legal definition of obscenity, the jurors still called those publications offensive. …

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