Convict Barred From Viewing Porn: I Can’t Even Watch 'Titanic’

CYBERSPACE—A convict in Washington state who is due to be released after a seven-year term on a charge of viewing child pornography says that the conditions of his probation barring him from watching porn are so vague that he would be prevented from even checking out seemingly innocuous mainstream movies including Titanic, the of all time.

Jameel Padilla, now aged 41, was busted in 2012 after police say that they discovered images of child porn on his computer during an investigation into sexually explicit messages he allegedly sent to a nine-year-old girl. He was also convicted on a charge of communicating with a minor for “immoral purposes,” and that charge came with .

But the definition of “pornographic materials,” Padilla’s lawyer Mary Swift argued to the Washington State Supreme Court, is so vague that it bans him from viewing even mainstream, critically acclaimed films and television shows.

Under the conditions of his probation, Padilla is banned from watching “images of sexual intercourse, simulated or real, masturbation, or the display of intimate body parts.”

“Can Padilla own the movie Titanic? Can he see Schindler’s List in a theater? Can he watch a movie or television show at home that includes simulated intercourse or any nudity at all?” Swift wrote in her brief to the court. “Can he own a medical textbook of human anatomy? Can he visit the Seattle Art Museum? Can he go to the public library to view a book containing Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, which arguably depict female genitalia? Can he display a print of Michelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam’ in his home? Can he read a magazine containing a Victoria’s Secret advertisement? One can only guess the answers to these questions, and therein lies the problem.”

But last year, a state Court of Appeals refused to throw out the disputed condition of Padilla’s probation, simply throwing the case back to a trial court come up with a narrower definition of what counts as pornography.

Swift and Padilla, however, appealed the case to the state Supreme Court, finding a more sympathetic ear there. The highest court in the state the definition of pornography contained in Padilla’s condition of probation was “vague and overbroad,” covering even a currently popular HBO TV show.

The state’s definition “would unnecessarily encompass movies and television shows not created for the sole purpose of sexual gratification. Films such as Titanic and television shows such as Game of Thrones depict acts of simulated intercourse but would not ordinarily be considered ‘pornographic material,’” the court wrote in its opinion.

Asked to comment on the case, longtime AVN legal columnist Clyde DeWitt said, “This is just another example of the principle that speech can be measured only by amplitude and duration.”

Poorly defined bans on access to porn by convicts are nothing new. Earlier this year a convict in a South Dakota prison, Charles Sisney, challenge the state’s ban on porn in prison, saying that it prevented him from acquiring an art book showing the works of Michelangelo, as well as his favorite Japanese manga comic book. The issue also came up before the Supreme Court in Vermont.

And in 2014, a convicted killer in Connecticut sued the state saying that he was barred from owning an art book titled The Atlas of Foreshortening under the , because the book used nude models to illustrate principles of how to correctly draw the human body.

Photo via Paramount Pictures Screen Capture