Vice Squad
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Update on S&M Trial

In late February we mentioned the impending end of a trial of a man in Brooklyn who engaged in severe sadomasochistic activities and also maintained an S&M website. The jury was out for a week, and cleared him of an obscenity charge stemming from the material on the website. But for his treatment of his one-time live-in "slave," the defandant was convicted of sex trafficking and forced labor.

I have no insights into the merits of these verdicts, but the guilty findings will probably lead people in the extreme S&M community to seek more explicit, more detailed, more frequent, and more verifiable forms of consent. That is a development that, in general, I think is for the best.

The not guilty verdict for obscenity is interesting, too, as it suggests that the jury felt that one of the three prongs of the Miller formulation was not met. Could it be that the S&M activities portrayed are not "patently offensive" according to Brooklyn community standards?


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