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May 31, 2000 01:02pm
Criminal Investigation of AT&T Sought AFA Asks Reno to Review Cable Porn Venture
Source: American Family Association
by: Company Press Release

(WASHINGTON) -- The American Family Association today wrote Attorney General Janet Reno asking her to investigate AT&T Corp. for possible violation of federal obscenity laws.

In the letter, AFA director of governmental affairs, Patrick Trueman, noted that today's Wall Street Journal indicates that AT&T plans to distribute hard-core pornography through its cable unit. The article describes the material that AT&T will use in such a way as to lead one to believe that it may be obscene.

``Title 18, Section 1468 of federal criminal law prohibits the distribution of obscene material by cable television to anyone and it is not a defense that the material is provided to willing consumers,'' Trueman said. The criminal penalty is two years imprisonment and up to $250,000 fine per offense. Any property used in the commission of an obscenity crime as well as profits from the crime are subject to forfeiture to the federal government, under Title 18, Section 1467.

``It is a sad commentary on the Clinton Administration that a mainstream major corporation, like AT&T would venture into an area of questionable legality,'' said Trueman. ``AT&T may take short-term comfort in the fact that the Clinton Administration has been lax in the enforcement of federal law prohibiting the distribution of obscenity,'' he added. ``However, AT&T may be late to this profitable area because the next administration which begins in little more than half a year may decide to vigorously prosecute obscenity violations just as the Reagan and Bush Administrations did. What impact will this have on shareholders of AT&T, not to mention the executives who are responsible for this unfortunate decision?'' Trueman asked.

Trueman is the former section chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice during the Reagan and Bush Administrations.

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