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United States of America v. United States District Court for the Central District of California (Kantor)

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
858 F.2d 534 (1988)


Facts

To protect minors from sexual exploitation, Congress enacted a strict liability statute prohibiting filmmakers from showing minors performing sexually explicit acts. The statute provided severe penalties for violators and did not require prima facie evidence that the filmmaker knew the performer was a minor. The United States government (plaintiff) alleged that Ronald Renee Kantor and Rupert Sebastian McNee (producers) (defendants) violated the statute by making a sexually explicit film featuring a 16-year-old star, and prosecuted the producers in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The producers proffered evidence that the star deceived them into thinking she was an adult, and they had no knowledge as to the star's true age. The government moved to bar the evidence because scienter was not an element of the statutory offense. The producers moved to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that, without the element of scienter, the statute denied them the right to free expression guaranteed by the United States Constitution's First Amendment. The court denied both motions.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kozinski, J.)

Dissent (Beezer, J.)

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