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Ohio man convicted for "obscene" stories in his private journal

This is an unusual case. The Ohio law -- a 1970s version of which Politech 
member Bruce Taylor successfully defended before a federal appeals court -- 
applies not only to dirty pictures, but also to written material:

"No person, with knowledge of the character of the material or performance 
involved, shall do any of the following... Create, reproduce, or publish 
any obscene material that has a minor as one of its participants or 
portrayed observers...  Buy, procure, possess, or control any obscene 
material, that has a minor as one of its participants..."

Anyone who possesses such a visual or written description -- including a 
diary entry or an erotic story -- is guilty of a felony. That means Ohioans 
who have on their hard drive an "obscene" text file from alt.sex.stories 
are felons.

Other coverage:



From: "Robert V. Zwink" <rzwink@microcenter.com>
To: <declan@well.com>
Subject: Man's journal ruled obscene
Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2001 10:24:08 -0400
Message-ID: <LBEJKGPAOONNNILOJHBMCEBBEBAA.rzwink@mail.microcenter.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
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This is possibly one for your list.  A 22-year old wrote extensively about
his pedophile delusions in a daily personal journal.  Law enforcement found
the journal, today he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.  Seems he should
be in an addiction clinic not a prison.  The journal was never published.

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 From The Columbus Dispatch

Man's journal ruled obscene

Wednesday, July 4, 2001

Tim Doulin
Dispatch Staff Reporter

Brian Dalton wrote fictitious tales of sexually abusing and torturing
children in his private journal, intending that no one else see them, he

But when his probation officer found the journal during a routine search of
Dalton's Columbus home, prosecutors charged him with pandering obscenity
involving a minor.

In Franklin County Common Pleas Court yesterday, the 22-year-old man's
written words cost him 10 years in prison.

The case worries civil-rights lawyer Benson Wolman, who said it has
free-speech implications.

"What you're saying is somebody can't, in essence, confess their fantasy
into a personal journal for fear they have socially unacceptable fantasies,
then ultimately they end up getting prosecuted,'' said Wolman, former
director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Ohio.

"This is the only case that I know of where we are talking about a
journal -- just written words. It surprises and offends me that an action
should be brought based on a journal.''

But Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien called the case a "breakthrough''
in the battle against child pornography.


"This is one of the first felony cases in Franklin County that involves the
written word -- a writing somebody created on their own,'' he said.

"Even without passing it on to anyone else, he committed a felony.''


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