Major critic of child porn policy arrested by US government

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Lawrence A. Stanley - an attorney, journalist, and sex researcher - was arrested December 5, 1991 in New York by federal agents and charged with three counts of receiving and conspiracy to import child pornography in 1989.

Stanley was arrested at New York's Kennedy Airport upon returning to the US from Amsterdam, where he maintains an office as part of his entertainment law practice. He was held for five days at the Metropolitan Correctional Institution in Manhattan before being released on $500,000 bail, posted in the form of deeds to his parents' and spouse's parents' homes. Prosecutors originally requested that Stanley be held without bail.

The arrest is the latest in a three-year long campaign of harassment against Stanley by the US Justice Department Child Exploitation Task Force, of which the New York attorney has been an influential critic.

Stanley's 1988 Playboy article, "The Child-Pornography Myth," documented how the federal government was virtually the only commercial distributor of pornography depicting minors. That article earned Stanley the Free Press Association's H.L. Mencken award for best investigative reporting, and helped spark the first criticism in the mainstream media of the government's child porn entrapment schemes. In addition, Stanley has written in publications ranging from Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal and College Art Journal to Gay Community News, Paidika, the NAMBLA Bulletin, and Uncommon Desires.

The charges Stanley faces stem from his representation of a client, Donald Joel Marcus, who was being investigated in 1989 for alleged production of child pornography. In the course of that investigation, US Customs contrived to deliver the client's suitcase to Stanley's law office, where Marcus was to meet with the attorney. The parcel was delivered by US Customs agents, who used the delivery as a pretext to search Stanley's office. Inside the suitcase, the government alleged, were photographs taken in France at a nudist resort that show nude girls under the age of 16. No sexual activity was depicted in the photographs. A few weeks later, federal agents executed a search warrant on Stanley's home, seizing among other items the attorney's files on child porn sting operations.

Stanley argued in court that the initial search warrant was illegal. In June 1990, a federal judge in the Southern District agreed. The prosecutor for the Southern District declined to prosecute the case.

But over the next 18 months, federal agents continued to investigate Stanley, interviewing friends and associates in a fruitless search for evidence that he was having sex with minors.

In a sign of their desperation, the Justice Department took the unusual step of choosing another federal district in which to pursue prosecution. On December 5, an indictment against Marcus was unsealed in New York's Eastern District and Stanley's name was added to it.

Stanley says he needs to raise at least $50,000 to mount an effective defense. As part of that defense, Stanley plans to raise to constitutional objections to the federal child pornography statutes as well as to attack the government assault on the attorney-client relationship. A defense committee is forming, whose members Stanley says include poet Allen Ginsberg and Journal of Homosexuality editor Dr. John DeCecco.

source: Article 'Major Critic of Child Porn Policy Arrested by US Government - Porn charge is latest tactic in harassment of civil liberties attorney' by Bill Andriette; NAMBLA Bulletin, Vol. 13, No. 1; January/February 1992