A state court failed to announce any decision Wednesday on a request that Larry Flynt, convicted publisher of the sex-oriented Hustler magazine, be allowed freedom on bail while appealing his obscenity conviction.
A decision on the request probably will not come until the end of the week, Raymond Shannon, presiding judge of the Court of Appeals for the First Appellate Court of Ohio, said.
Flynt, 33, of Dayton, was convicted by a jury Tuesday in Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Common Pleas Court of pandering obsenity and engaging in organized crime. Despite pleas from his attorneys for a delay in sentencing, Flynt told Judge William J. Morrissey to treat him like Gary Gilmore and get it over with.
Judge Morrissey, a Roman Catholic family man with 14 years on the brench, is considered by observers here to be middle-of-the-road on sentencing, often times threatening dire consequences, then placing the defendants on probation, much in the manner of a stern father.
But challenged by Flynt, the judge obliged. Flynt was sentence to the maximum: seven to 25 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the organized crime charge and six months in prison and $1,000 fine for pandering obscenity.
Ohio's statute on organized crime went into effect in 1974 and makes it a felony for five or more persons to engage on a continuing basis in any offense for profit. The statute was directed at sophisticated criminal syndicates and at less sinister operations, such as a local car theft ring, according to the law's legislation history.
Although Flynt's codefendants - his wife, Althea Leasure, Hustler magazine editor; his brother, Jimmy, copublisher, and Al VanSchaik, production manager - were acquited of the same charges, jurors evidently felt the three companies that printed and distributed the magazine were coconspirators, as charged by the prosecution. Under Ohio law corporations are considered individuals. Thus Flynt was convicted of County prosecutor Simon L. Leis Jr., and his first assistant, Fred Carpolano, admitted opponents of anything smacking of obscenity.
The verdict was a major victory for Hamilton County prosecutor Simon L. Leis Jr., and his first assistant, Fred Carpolano, admitted opponents of anything smacking of obscenity.
"A moral boundary has been established by this county as well as this country," Leis said. "Americans will put limitations on how far smut peddlers will go."
The five-woman, seven-man jury, with an average age in the mid-40s and generally with blue-collar jobs, was finally shocked into alertness during the trial when prosecutors Leis and Carpolano asked the expert witnesses about specific photographs and articles in Hustler. Prosecutors and the experts read aloud vivid and explicit stories of incest, bestiality, oral and anal intercourse, sadism and other sexual deviations.
Jurors also were shown a larger-than-lifesize centerfold of Flynt's wife, which fully exposed her genitals.
As the trial progressed into these more lurid aspects, jurors frequently covered eyes with hands, looked at the ceiling or floor, and generally appeared uncomfortable or embarrassed.
Jurors took less than 18 hours to reach their verdict and several commented later that Flynt's guilt was easy to decide, while the participation of his codefendants was less clear. When over, Jimmy Flynt said he wished "they'd sentenced all of us. It would have looked better since we were connected with it."
Once the verdict was in, defense attorneys moved quickly to file a notice of appeal and asked the state appellate court for the bond hearing.
During the bond hearing, the three judges questioned how they could be assured Hustler would not be distributed in the Cincinnati area pending appeal, since Flynt apparently broke aprior promise to stop distribution until his trial concluded. They also requested Flynt's prior criminal record before reaching a decision.
Flynt was convicted a 1969 of discharging a firearms and convicted again of the same offense in 1972. In July, 1975, a federal court in Dayton convicted him of failing to file an income tax return.
Still pending against Flynt, in Cincinnati are charges of bribing police officers, sodomy and 12 counts of dissemination of material harmful to juveniles for his mailing of a full-color pamphlet on war atrocities to 400,000 local residents just before his trial, asking residents if this were not more obscene than sexually explicit photographs.