Recluse in Text-Obscenity Case Goes for Plea Over Facing Trial

Karen Fletcher, described by her attorneys as an agoraphobic who is afraid to leave her house, has decided to give up her fight in a text-obscenity case against her rather than go through the ordeal of a trial.

An indictment was handed up against the Donora, Pa.-native by a grand jury in September 2006. U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan in Pittsburgh initiated the case.

Fletcher was charged with six counts of violating obscenity laws for writing fictional stories on her Web site, RedRoseStories.com, about the kidnapping, rape and torture of children.

Fletcher said in court documents in U.S. v. Fletcher that she wrote the stories for therapeutic value to help get over her own abuse she said she thinks she suffered as a child. One of the rules for her Web site, which her attorney said had less than 30 members, was that no one was allowed to post pictures, according to court papers.

Since the time of her indictment, U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania Joy Flowers Conti had allowed several continuances and did not order Fletcher to attend any of the hearings given her mental state.

Conti had denied a defense motion to dismiss the case on grounds that an obscenity case couldn’t be applied to text where there are no pictures involved.

The case gained national attention and there were questions in the legal community about why the U.S. Attorney’s Office would choose to prosecute this particular woman.

After the motions to dismiss were denied, Fletcher’s attorney Larry Walters said it became clear that a plea or a trial with the potential for jail time were her only options. Walters said the two sides agreed to a resolution that would not involve jail, a place he said his client couldn’t mentally withstand. Fletcher will enter a plea of guilty on Aug. 8 and will be put on house arrest, which Walters said is basically how she lives now. It will be up to the Conti as to how long she is on house arrest.

Walters said the judge, in a rather unusual step for federal court, agreed to have the plea and sentencing done on the same day so that Fletcher would only have to leave her house once.

“A lot of education has occurred on both sides, but primarily we’ve tried to show the prosecution who they were dealing with,” Walters said. “This is not somebody who had any real impact on the adult entertainment industry – this is a fragile, broken, elderly lady who had 29 members on her Web site.”

— Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

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