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United States v. Ragsdale

426 F.3d 765 (2005)

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United States v. Ragsdale

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

426 F.3d 765 (2005)

Facts

In 1998, the Dallas Police Department received a complaint from a German resident, stating that rape pornography was being sold online via a website registered to Fort Worth, Texas resident Garry Ragsdale (defendant). An undercover detective recognized Garry as a fellow Dallas police officer. The detective arranged to purchase a total of eight videotapes from Garry’s website. Two of the tapes showed violent rape scenes that the site touted were real and not staged. After obtaining the tapes, police obtained a search warrant for the home of Garry and his wife, Tamara Ragsdale (defendant). At the time police arrived, Garry and Tamara were leaving their house with videotapes in the car to be mailed. Garry was arrested. Tamara then accompanied police into her home as they executed the search warrant. Tamara admitted that she and her husband sold the videotapes via their website. In 2003, Garry and Tamara Ragsdale were charged with conspiracy, mailing obscene matter, and aiding and abetting. Garry and Tamara were represented by separate counsel, but both asserted that although they sold the videos, the tapes were not obscene. To support this claim, the defense presented Dr. Shari Julian as an expert to testify that the tapes did not offend community standards and had scientific value. The prosecution did not present evidence to prove obscenity other than the tapes themselves. The jury found the Ragsdales guilty on all charges. The district court sentenced Garry to 33 months in prison and Tamara to 30 months in prison. The Ragsdales appealed their convictions and sentences, alleging that the district court erred in denying their motions for judgment of acquittal because the two tapes in question were not obscene under the law.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stewart, J.)

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