Court Deals Blow to U.S. Anti-Porn Campaign

"You might not like what you had just seen," Zicari told ABC News before his arraignment. "It might have disturbed you, it might have repulsed you, it might have given you all sorts of emotions. But are you going to limit and be that person that has the right to say 200 million other citizens cannot watch that because you don't like it?"

In an interview with ABC's Ted Koppel, Andrew Oosterbaan, chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity section of the Justice Department, said that was precisely the decision of the local community.

"Under the law of obscenity, it's the community's job to draw that line," he said. "What prosecutors do in investigating obscenity cases, especially considering how vast the problem seems to be ... is finding a way to make a difference in the environment that we face right now. And the Extreme Associates case shows just how egregious the conduct can be."

The Investigation

In some ways, Zicari asked for the government's attention. In a February 2002 episode of PBS' "Frontline," Zicari talked about the taboo nature of his films. In the transcript of that interview, posted on the "Frontline" Web site, Zicari stated, "We've got tons of stuff they technically could arrest us for. I'm not out there saying I want to be the test case, but I will be the test case. I would welcome that. I would welcome the publicity. I would welcome everything to make a point in, I guess, our society."

Buchanan told ABC News: "Zicari's statements on the 'Frontline' edition and the transcript of those interviews were very helpful for law enforcement to be able to assess what Rob Zicari's intent was. It helped us to determine that this was not a producer who was trying to comply with the law. This is not a producer who wanted to make sure that his products wouldn't violate the community standards. What we learned from this interview is that Rob Zicari intended to violate federal law."

On Sept. 5, 2002, U.S. postal inspector Joseph McGowan went to Zicari's Web site, where he registered as "Kim Wallace," providing name, address and credit card information. He paid $89.95 to join the organization for three months.

McGowan and other postal inspectors then viewed some clips from the Web site, including some from an area of the site called "The Piss Zone." McGowan also ordered three videotapes from the company, which were sent to an undercover postal agent in Pittsburgh.

On April 8, 2003, law enforcement seized five movies at Extreme Associates in Los Angeles. The search warrant from that time referred to the "Frontline" episode as a place where Zicari "issued a challenge to Attorney General [John] Ashcroft," saying that Ashcroft "could not do anything about his films." Zicari told ABC News that the language of the warrant indicated Ashcroft was waging a "vendetta" against him.

On Aug. 6, 2003, a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh returned a 10-count indictment against Extreme Associates Inc., for violating federal obscenity statutes by distributing, either through the mail or over the Internet, films judged obscene.

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