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Arkansas DJs
plead guilty in gay porn case

Arkansas DJs
plead guilty in gay porn case

Two former Little Rock, Ark., radio station employees have been sentenced to community service and $250 in fines after pleading guilty to charges that they distributed a gay porn video to a minor during a gay pride parade in Conway last year. Phillip Beard and Christine Brown originally were charged with felony distribution of obscene film under Arkansas's obscenity statute. But after jurors were seated and the prosecution was a couple of hours into the case, the trial was interrupted. Both sides went into the judge's chambers, where the judge heard the pleas. Beard pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of distributing pornography to a minor; Brown pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal attempt charge. Each was sentenced to 24 hours of community service and fined $500 with $250 suspended. Their court costs also were waived. Beard said his intent was never malicious and that the case was a misunderstanding. "I'm glad to get this past me. Now I can move on," he said. Brown characterized their behavior at the parade as "a joke" and said, "There was never a case to begin with." The two were accused of handing out obscene material during the June 2004 gay pride parade in Conway. A boy, then 16, said Beard gave him the video while dressed in a skimpy black swimsuit. Jurors watched television news coverage of the parade, showing Beard waving a DVD and saying, "Gay porn. Gay porn." Before testimony began, Prosecutor H.G. Foster said the case was important "as a societal statement. There are very few who would disagree that when it comes to distribution of explicit materials, generally as a society, we think that's unacceptable." Arkansas has a separate charge for distribution of explicit material to minors, but Foster said it was more appropriate to charge the pair under the state's general obscenity statute. Penalties for both felonies are the same--fines of up to $2,000 and a maximum of five years in prison. Several potential jurors said they had qualms about being asked to watch part of the tape, and the judge said he would help jurors decide what was deemed obscene. Jurors told lawyers and circuit judge Charles Clawson that they might have trouble setting aside their personal views of what is obscene. Clawson said he would instruct the panel on what constitutes obscenity. Foster indicated that jurors might not have to watch the tape to ascertain what is on it, telling jurors he hoped they wouldn't be put in a position where they would have to watch the DVD. He said that perhaps the cover of the video would be enough to warrant a conviction. The prosecution testimony Wednesday never got to the video before the trial was interrupted. The radio station for which Beard and Brown worked at the time terminated the pair after their stunt. The parade also drew a protester who dumped cow manure along the parade route. (AP)

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