Thursday, March 13, 2003

Retailer indicted on smut charges

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - A new battle in Butler County's war on smut is headed for court.

On Wednesday, a Butler grand jury indicted a store manager on four charges of pandering obscenity, the county's first case against a retailer in about two years, said Assistant Prosecutor Steve Tolbert, who heads Prosecutor Robin Piper's obscenity prosecution unit.

Jeffrey R. Busemeyer, manager of the Pik Kwik Market on Ohio 747 in West Chester Township, is accused of allowing the store to sell obscene videos.

No court date has been set.

Busemeyer's lawyer, H. Louis Sirkin, said he expected to fight the charges - and to prevail, given that obscenity convictions have been rare in Butler County.

Obscenity charges are difficult to prove because state law requires juries to determine whether material is obscene based on factors open to interpretation, including "community standards." Sirkin says the law is "ridiculous," a threat to First Amendment rights and should be changed. Opponents argue obscene material hurts individuals, families and communities.

The charges against Busemeyer, fifth-degree felonies each carrying a potential year's prison sentence and a $2,500 fine, stem from sales of four videos to undercover police.

The investigation began in late 2001 after someone complained about Pik Kwik's videos to the county prosecutor's office, said West Chester Police Sgt. Erik Niehaus.He said he didn't know who complained - or whether Citizens for Community Values, an anti-pornography group, was involved. CCV Vice President David Miller said Wednesday, "We have known about Pik Kwik for a long time," and the store was on a list CCV provided to Piper's office.

West Chester Police Chief John Bruce said the origin of the complaint doesn't matter. He said police periodically check video retailers - even without specific allegations - to remain vigilant for possible pornography-law violations.


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