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Red Rose Stories (US v. Fletcher Case) in New York Times

The New York Times reported today on the Red Rose Stories case (previously blogged here)

The story highlights how US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, despite taking an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, has gone on a rampage trying to stamp out expression that doesn’t meet her standards of morality.

Ms. Fletcher’s stories, however lurid, have some literary and scientific merit. Lawrence G. Walters, a Florida lawyer who is part of the defense team for Ms. Fletcher, argued in a court pleading that the stories had scientific value because they demonstrated the thinking of child predators.

In an affidavit, Ms. Fletcher described herself as a victim of child sexual abuse and said that writing her stories helped alleviate her torment.

Ms. Fletcher, who lives in Donora, Pa., in a ramshackle house, said she ran away from home at 14. She said she wanted her Web site to be a “safe place for cathartic writing, for people to express themselves and use their own imagery, not to have pictures to potentially excite and be suggestive to readers.”

The indictment, which has the potential for a long prison term, charges Ms. Fletcher with commercial involvement with obscenity because she charged people $10 to join her group. Jerome Mooney, another of her lawyers, argued in court that the fee barely covered her expenses and was imposed only because she believed using a credit card requirement would prevent minors from signing into the site. In the end, only 29 people subscribed, at least one of whom is likely to have been a police informant.

In their brief, the defense lawyers argued that the Fletcher stories, however lurid, were also comparable to many scenes found in literature and television. They cited the 1962 novel “A Clockwork Orange,” by Anthony Burgess, and episodes of the cartoon show “South Park.” They also cited a scene in a 1996 novel by I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, in which a 10-year-old girl is placed in a cage with a bear who forces himself upon her sexually to habituate her to sexual submission.

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