Church and State
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd's mission from God to eliminate obscenity knows no bounds
Published: February 24, 2011
Walters was called to Polk County again in October 2005, a year after Judd was first elected sheriff, when Lakeland man Christopher Wilson was arrested on similar charges over a website he operated called nowthatsfuckedup.com. The site allowed free access to pornographic images for U.S. soldiers who sent in photos from the battlefield, and it received national attention for its portrayal of the grisly realities of war. Rolling Stone, for instance, reported that the website contained a "severed head floating in a bowl of blood" and "a child with bloody pulp where his face used to be."
Sheriff Judd was able to overlook the dismembered limbs and mangled bodies, but he found the run-of-the-mill pornography on the site - a man having anal sex with a woman, a man ejaculating onto a woman's face - unacceptable. "Normal people don't have the ability to imagine how perverse and horrific these images were," Judd told The Ledger newspaper at the time. "It certainly is content that shocks the community."
Wilson was charged with 100 counts of distribution or transmission of obscene materials, 100 counts of offering to distribute or transmit obscene materials and 100 counts of possession of obscene materials. In addition to those 300 charges, 200 of which carried a maximum sentence of one year in prison, he also received the same felony charge that was slapped on the Robinsons.
Wilson, who declined to comment on the matter, was booked into jail on a Friday evening, just before a three-day weekend. Not only were all the banks closed, Walters says, but "we couldn't find a bondsman that would sit there for four hours and write 300 bonds." Walters guesses that the sheriff's office knew full well this would happen and accuses Judd's people of "charge stacking" to make it harder for Wilson to be released.
Chip Thullberry, spokesperson for the Polk State Attorney's Office, doesn't disagree. "Perhaps it's a tactical decision on our part, but one that's perfectly legal," he says. (Brad Copley, Judd's main ally in the State Attorney's Office, was unavailable for comment.)
In the end, the county worked out a deal with Wilson nearly identical to the one it had worked out with the Robinsons: The State Attorney's Office would drop all but five of the misdemeanor charges, provided that Wilson would shut down his website, agree not to create a similar website within the next five years and pay the $3,785.56 it cost the county to investigate the case.
Walters is not yet involved in Judd's latest obscenity case - the one against Phillip Greaves - but he says he may "take a more active role" in that case in the future. He's hoping that if the Greaves case goes to court, it will end in a federal injunction against Grady Judd for violating First Amendment rights.
"This Greaves case may be the last straw," he says.
In 1987, Polk County had 33 lingerie modeling and escort services, 14 adult video stores, three adult theaters and two nude entertainment establishments.
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