Thursday, February 6, 2003

Grand jury declines to indict motel owner on porn charges

Red Roof Inn's adult movies not 'obscene'

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

UNION TWP. - A Clermont County grand jury has declined to issue an indictment against a motel owner here over an X-rated movie offered to guests, a defeat for an anti-porn group campaigning for removal of adult fare from hotels and motels.

County prosecutors took the pandering obscenity case against the Red Roof Inn's owner to the grand jury Wednesday, at the urging of Citizens for Community Values, the Sharonville-based anti-pornography group headed by Phil Burress.

The decision came after jurors viewed a tape of an in-room adult movie purchased last year at the Mount Carmel-Tobasco Road motel. CCV sent the tape to authorities.

County Prosecutor Don White said Wednesday that while he believes the movie, Lots of Filthy Sex - depicting multiple sex acts by various adults - is obscene, he has no plans to show it to another grand jury in the hope of getting an indictment.

But "if we receive another complaint like this and we believe it is pandering obscenity, we will present it to the grand jury," White said.

"Prosecutors have a duty to take a look at complaints like this and then let a grand jury take a look at complaints like this. The whole idea of this (law) is, what is the community standard? I am not the community standard. ... I have to find out what nine people on a grand jury think about this."

Attorneys for the Dallas-based owner of the Red Roof Inn-Cincinnati East-Beechmont could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Burress seemed unconcerned by the grand jury's decision.

"This is expected," he said Wednesday afternoon. "Anyone who understands obscenity cases knows that you win some and you lose some."

According to state law, obscenity is determined based on community standards. It is considered an arbitrary process because jurors, using their own personal beliefs about what is and is not offensive, define community standards.

Last fall, CCV sent tapes containing adult movies purchased from hotels in the Tristate to prosecutors in Clermont, Butler and Kenton counties to determine whether obscenity charges were justified.

Clermont County was the first jurisdiction to show one of the tapes to a grand jury, officials said.

Mr. Burress said his group is not deterred by the lack of an indictment. CCV is continuing to compile an Internet list ( of hotels the group considers porn-free. Nearly 100 local hotels are on the list.

The Red Roof Inn-Cincinnati East-Beechmont continues to offer patrons adult movies.


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