Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flynt and his brother, Jimmy, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors this morning under which criminal obscenity charges against them were dropped.
Flynt said he agreed to the bargain because he did not want to expose his brother to the possibility of being sent to jail.
Prosecutors dropped the charges against Flynt and his brother in a plea agreement that fines the Hustler magazine corporation with the brothers agreeing to remove X-rated videos at their Cincinnati store. The agreement was reached this morning in what would have been the third day of jury selection in a trial that could have sent the Hustler publisher to jail for 24 years. Flynt and his brother Jimmy will not face a trial and the possibility of jail time.
In the plea bargain prosecutors allowed Flynt and his brother, Jimmy, to substitute their corporation instead of themselves in a plea of guilty to two counts of pandering obscenity. Hustler News & Gifts was fined $5,000 on each count. Prosecutors agreed to drop all other charges in the 15-count indictment against the Flynts in exchange for the guilty pleas and an agreement to remove sexually explicit videos from their store, which also sells Hustler and other magazines and sex toys. One count had alleged that a juvenile bought videos at the store.
Flynt had opened the store just off Fountain Square because he was angry at obscenity crackdowns that kept his magazine largely unavailable in the city. He was convicted in 1977 of pandering obscenity for selling Hustler in Cincinnati, and said he hoped that his trial in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court would show that community standards for obscenity had
"I am very pleased," Larry Flynt said. "The deal the prosecution offered us was the deal we always wanted. "We want to sell our magazine. If they just leave the magazine alone, we'll be OK." Prosecutor Mike Allen said the county protected its values and made no concessions to the Flynts.
"He didn't win. He lost," Allen said. "He turned tail and ran."
The corporation has until May 21 to pay the fine, which Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker imposed when he accepted the plea agreement. Flynt's attorneys and prosecutors had spent Tuesday trying to find 12 jurors willing to sit through a four- or five-week trial that would expose them to up to 40 hours of hard-core adult videos. Dinkelacker on Tuesday dismissed 10 potential jurors who told him they were strongly opposed to pornography.
The court withheld the potential jurors' names and the judge ordered the media not to photograph them. Flynt and his brother Jimmy indicted in April 1998 on charges of pandering obscenity, disseminating material harmful to a juvenile, conspiracy and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. The most serious charge involved the alleged sale of a sexually explicit video to a 14-year-old boy at the store, which Jimmy Flynt manages. If convicted, each brother could have gotten 24 years in prison and $65,000 in fines.