Based on an article from
Chris Wilson, the owner of an amateur porn Web site that stirred
international controversy with its pictures allegedly portraying dead
Iraqi insurgents, is being prevented from making bail.
Wilson has been held at the Polk County Jail since Friday night. His
lawyer said Polk authorities piled on charges, 300 misdemeanors and one
felony, and that has made it more difficult for Wilson to arrange his
release from jail.
I think it's inappropriate. It's an additional, pre-conviction
punishment, said Larry Walters, a First Amendment lawyer based in
The charges against Wilson all are related to allegedly obscene content
on the Web site he operates out of his Lakeland apartment.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said filing so many misdemeanor charges
is standard procedure. [yeah yeah].The law
is quite clear that each photograph or each video or each image is a
count. And certainly, had we gone through his entire Web page, we
probably could have made several thousand more charges.
Therein lies the problem for Wilson. Because of the large number of
charges, Wilson's family is having a hard time finding a bail bondsman
who will write that number of bonds, according to Walters. Also, it
makes bailing him out considerably more expensive. Bail for each
misdemeanor charge is set at $500 each, and the felony charge is $1,000.
His total bail is $151,000.
Normally, a defendant can post one bail for 10 percent of the total
amount -- about $15,000 in Wilson's case. But state law requires that
the minimum bail paid by a defendant for each charge be set at no less
then $100, according to Bartow bail bondsman Bill Kidwell.
Between the misdemeanors and the felony charge, Kidwell said, Wilson's
family would have to pay $30,100 to get him out, money that the bail
bondsman does not repay the family. They would also have to pledge
collateral to cover the entire $151,000, which would be forfeited if
Wilson did not show up for trial.
Walters said Wilson's family had asked the State Attorney's Office in
Bartow to combine all the counts into one charge for the purposes of the
bail, but the State Attorney's Office refused.
Chip Thullbery, administrative assistant state attorney, acknowledged
that. We felt the original charges as filed were appropriate.
Certainly, it was not done for harassment. It was done because he
possessed that amount of material. [yeah yeah]
According to Walters, Wilson's family is continuing to try to post bail.
Walters has set up a section on his Web site,
people can send in donations to assist Wilson.
Walters said Monday that he had gotten dozens of e-mails and hundreds of
telephone calls from around the country from people offering their
support of Wilson and expressing outrage that he was arrested in the
Luke Lirot, a well-known First Amendment lawyer fromTampa who has
represented clients on obscenity charges in Polk County, said that
filing numerous charges against a defendant has been a typical tactic
for Assistant State Attorney Brad Copley. Brad Copley's chosen method
of persecution is to heap on as many charges as possible, to increase
the expense of mounting a defense, Lirot said.
Lirot said Polk County's aggressive approach to prosecuting materials
viewed as obscene is inconsistent with virtually every area in the
United States and most of the decisions coming from the Supreme Court.
There's a huge void of First Amendment rights between Tampa and Orlando.
Wilson's Internet business initially began as a Web site where people
could send in pictures of their wives or girlfriends engaged in sexual
activity. He stirred international controversy because of his practice
of allowing military personnel serving overseas free access to his site
in exchange for pictures proving they really were serving in Afghanistan
For the past seven or eight months, Wilson has been posting pictures
that show burned and mutilated bodies, allegedly of Iraqi and Afghan
insurgents. The Army investigated, but could not confirm whether
military personnel really were posting those images.
Update 13th October:
Chris Wilson, the operator of a controversial porn Web site, was
released from the Polk County Jail after his parents put up $30,100 to
arrange his bail.
His lawyer, Lawrence Walters of Orlando, said Wilson's parents arranged
their son's release Monday but he wasn't let out of jail until Tuesday
afternoon because it took so long to process the 301 bonds -- one for
each of the 300 misdemeanor counts and one felony count filed against
A Sheriff's Office employee at the jail said that it took all day to
process the 301 bonds.
Wilson's bail had been set at a total of $151,000 for the charges. His
parents made arrangements with a bail bond agency to put up the bail and
paid the agency a fee of $30,100.
The family had struggled to make bail over the weekend, because Wilson
was charged with so many individual obscenity counts.