FedSoc Blog

Pornographer Gets 4 Years in Prison for Obscenity


by Publius
Posted January 17, 2013, 1:12 PM

The Los Angeles Times reports:

A Los Angeles-based creator of pornographic fetish films was sentenced to four years in federal prison Wednesday for producing and selling obscene material.

Ira Isaacs, 61, received the sentence after a six-year prosecution that included two mistrials and led to the public admonishment of federal Judge Alex Kozinski, who recused himself from the proceedings after The Times reported that he placed pornographic images on an Internet server that could be accessed by the public. Kozinski is the chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Isaacs' trial came during a wave of obscenity prosecutions that began under the Bush administration in 2005 with the formation of an Obscenity Prosecution Task Force.

Doing business under the name L.A. Media since 1999, Isaacs produced, starred in, and distributed pornographic films through a website he advertised as "the Web's largest fetish VHS, DVD superstore." Some of his films, which depict bestiality and sexual situations involving human excrement, were shown to the jury during his third trial last April.

Although the defense argued that Isaacs' work was protected by the 1st Amendment, there was a consensus at trial about the appeal of the films, which had titles such as "Hollywood Scat Amateurs No. 7." "They were so disgusting I couldn't even watch them," said Isaacs' attorney Roger Diamond, who said he averted his eyes and read a book as the 90-minute films were played in court. "But that doesn't mean they're not free speech."

Isaacs said his films were supposed to shock and disgust people in a way that challenges their conception of art. He turned down a plea bargain that would have saved him from incarceration and said he had no regrets.

"It makes people think, 'What is art? Can art be gross?' " he said.

According to federal law, material must meet a three-part test to be considered criminally obscene: It must appeal to a prurient interest, lack scientific, artistic and political value and be patently offensive.

Prosecutor Michael Grant said Isaacs had never mentioned artistic intentions until he was in front of a court.

"Since 1999, he has operated a business with one goal in mind: make money off of individuals that enjoy sick materials," Grant said in court.

Diamond asked the judge to lighten the sentence to probation because he said Isaacs was financially destitute and had accepted responsibility for his crimes.

But U.S. District Judge George H. King, who presided over the case, said Isaacs had sought to "cloak himself" in the 1st Amendment with a "cynical post-hoc justification" and was not "a defender of the 1st Amendment."

Addressing Isaacs directly, King said, "You are an abuser of the 1st Amendment. You cheapen the 1st Amendment."


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