Friday, May 25, 2001

Prosecutor targets porn

Budget approved for task force

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The Butler County Prosecutor's Office is about to hire some professional smut-busters.

        With $120,000 approved by county commissioners Thursday, Prosecutor Robin Piper plans to create an obscenity task force to prosecute pornography cases.

        “The citizens will benefit from this because there's been a longstanding problem that's been allowed to persist, and it will take a special effort to reduce that problem,” Mr. Piper said.

        “While we have every intention of preserving the First Amendment rights of all citizens of Butler County, we plan on taking a sledgehammer to the video screen of pornography.”

        Phil Burress of West Chester Township, president of Citizens for Community Values, said he thinks the task force will be the first of its kind in the 17-county area of Greater Cincinnati that his group covers.

        Although Butler County's funding for the task force follows a Hamilton County jury's not-guilty verdict in an obscenity case on Monday, Mr. Piper is undaunted. Fighting obscene material is important because such materials are often contributing factors in sex crimes, he said.

        The new task force — which should include two prosecutors, an investigator and a secretary — is expected to be in place by mid-July. Even without such a task force, Mr. Piper pointed out, his staff has been gathering information to prosecute obscenity cases since he took office in January.

        Mr. Burress said aggressive enforcement of obscenity laws is overdue in Butler County. In 1999, a private investigator working for Mr. Burress' group found “12 outlets dealing in hard-core, prosecutable pornography” in the county, Mr. Burress said.


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