Next year, Karen Fletcher, a 56-year-old recluse living on disability payments, will go on trial in Pittsburgh on obscenity charges for writings distributed on the Internet to about two dozen subscribers, says the New York Times. In an era when pornography has exploded on the Web, Fletcher is one of only a handful of people singled out for prosecution on obscenity charges by the Bush administration. She faces six felony counts for operating the Web site Red Rose, which featured detailed fictional accounts of the molesting, torture, and sometimes gruesome murders of children under the age of 10, mostly girls.
The Times says the Fletcher case illustrates “the fractured and uncertain state of the enforcement of obscenity law in the nation.” Most prosecutors are reluctant to bring obscenity cases, regarding them both as difficult and a diversion of resources better spent on other crimes. The Fletcher case was filed by Mary Beth Buchanan, a U.S. Attorney who is regarded as the government's most aggressive opponent of the spread of pornography. Buchanan, 44, the daughter of a steelworker who went through law school as a single mother, is disdainful of prosecutors who have avoided taking on obscenity cases. Unlike her counterparts, she said in a recent interview, “I'm not afraid of the challenges, legal or otherwise, here.” Fletcher’s site was composed of text without any images. Tthere has not been a successful obscenity prosecution that did not involve drawings or photographs at least since 1973.