Thursday, August 05, 1999

Jurors watch two explicit videos in obscenity trial

Store owner, clerks face charges

Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Dan Gattermeyer on Wednesday urged jurors in an obscenity trial not to turn away when two of the three videotapes in question were shown. And they didn't.

        For more than three hours Wednesday, the jurors watched the explicit videotapes, Orgymania and Best of Freaks. A female juror appeared to tear up at times, while others were sometimes startled during certain scenes.

        The third videotape, Sin derella She Male, might be shown when the trial resumes this morning before Butler County Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth.

        Peter Tomaino, owner of VIP Video in Hamilton and Milville, and two store clerks, Billie J. Doan and Caroletha Geter, are charged with three counts of pandering obscenity.

        The charges stem from the purchase of the three videos by an undercover sheriff's deputy and an undercover Hamilton police officer in late 1997 and early 1998. The jury will be asked to decide if the videos are legally obscene.

        “They are presented to appeal to an unwholesome, unhealthy interest in sex,” Mr. Gattermeyer said. “The commercials in here are (even) obscene.”

        In Orgymania, at least 10 people were shown performing sex acts on one another at the same time, and Best of Freaks featured sexual acts with allegedly malformed body parts.

        “It's not a scientific expose of birth defects,” Mr. Gattermeyer said of Best of Freaks.

        The three-man, nine-woman jury took two days to seat because many potential jurors objected on religious grounds to adult videos, or said they couldn't watch them. There are two male alternates.

        In an opening statement, H. Louis Sirkin, attorney for Mr. Tomaino, pointed out that nothing in the store was hid den and that there is no secrecy. The stores have been in place for years, he said.

        Mr. Sirkin represented Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt in a recent Hamilton County obscenity case that ended in a plea bargain.

        Attorneys for the two clerks said their clients were just doing their jobs in the stores.

        “It's not her job to scrutinize the material in this case,” said Daniel Hurr, Ms. Geter's attorney. “Her job is to sell it.”

        While the videos were shown, a bailiff guarded the courtroom door and checked to make sure those entering were of legal age. There were several observers in the courtroom, including some who said they oppose adult material.

        That led to an incident at the end of the day between a spectator and Mr. Tomaino's wife, Barbara. Mrs. Tomaino told Judge Spaeth that after she got up leave the courtroom, someone verbally lectured her about the videos and inquired about the effect of the videos on Mrs. Tomaino's children.

        Mrs. Tomaino said she told the person: “Lady, you must be out of your ever-loving mind.”

        Though Common Pleas Court Bailiff William Kline said the jury had left the courtroom and not seen the exchange, Judge Spaeth said he would consider asking the jury about it when the trial resumes.


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