Antique Store Owner Arrested for Production of Obscenity in Polk County

The Lakeland Ledger reports that an antique store owner who used his business premises to take nude photographs has been busted on obscenity charges in Polk County, Florida. However, the story seems a bit fishy.

Sheriff’s officials said a confidential source told detectives that within the last 30 days a teenager had been paid $40 to pose nude for photographs taken at the business.

“Detectives were told the confidential source asked the girl her age and she replied 14,’’ a sheriff’s report said. “Detectives learned that Denitto uses the same side room to manufacture films that include males and females engaged in sexual acts.’’

Undercover detectives visited the business Friday and saw a hand-written sign on the counter advertising “Models Wanted Paid Hourly.”

“When the undercover detectives asked what types of models were being sought, Denitto said he was looking for nude, female models and would pay $20 an hour,’’ the sheriff’s report said.

On Tuesday, detectives served a search warrant at the business.

“During the search several photo albums of nude women were discovered in various locations throughout the store. In a room adjacent to the southeast side of the business, detectives discovered a video camera, several photography books, a 35 MM camera, a Polaroid camera, and several nude photos of women. In addition six VHS tapes were seized,’’ the report said. (source)

Note how the story starts by setting up the story as a child porn investigation. However, John F. Denitto, the store owner was only charged with producing “obscenity.”

Polk County Judge Kevin Abdoney determined the tapes to be obscene, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

In his post on the story, Mark Kernes asks “What; they don’t have child porn laws in Florida?” This very astute observation reveals a possible flaw in the original reporting, or perhaps misinformation put out by the Polk County authorities (and it wouldn’t be the first time). If they searched the premises and found child porn, I imagine that Denitto would have been appropriately charged. Instead, they got a Polk County judge to determine that the materials are “obscene”?

There may be more to this story than appears on the surface. If it were anywhere else, I wouldn’t be so suspicious. However, Polk County is absolutely batshit crazy when it comes to bringing citizens up on obscenity charges. Innocent until proven guilty is particularly applicable when we’re talking about this kind of charge in this particular place. There is a reason why this blog has a “Polk County” category.

Hat Tip to Mark Kernes.

4 Responses to Antique Store Owner Arrested for Production of Obscenity in Polk County

  1. Mark Kernes says:

    I’m guessing I should call you before I post these things …

  2. Ross says:

    I passed by that Antique Mall today and there’s a huge McCain/Palin sign on the front. (I’m not sure what that means, but it made me smile :)

  3. [...] where a guy who took photos of consenting adults, at their request, for their own personal use, was pursued relentlessly for obscenity charges. This jurisdiction saw a 15 year old arrested for farting. [...]

  4. [...] on it.  And then there was the antique store owner who was charged with obscenity production for taking nude photos of willing participants – even if, at first blush, child porn charges may have been more appropriate.  Maybe I have [...]

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