NEWCASTLE, England – A former civil servant has been acquitted of the obscenity charges leveled against him over fictionalized rape, torture and murder fantasies published on the internet.
Darryn Walker, author of a 12-page blog posting titled “Girls (Scream) Aloud,” said the story was an adult parody and was not intended to frighten or harass the popular girl-band Girls Aloud, on whom the fantasy focused.
Crown prosecutors, however, alleged the graphic violence and explicit sex contained in the story could be accessed by impressionable minors and therefore was obscene.
“A crucial aspect of the reasoning that led to the instigation of these proceedings was that the article in question, which was posted on the internet, was accessible to people who were particularly vulnerable: young people who were interested in a particular pop music group,” prosecutor David Perry told BBC News. “It was this that distinguished this case from other material available on the internet.”
Prosecutors also advanced the notion that reading violent rape and sexual torture fantasies could predispose some people to become sexual predators. A consulting psychiatrist called that allegation “baseless.”
According to Walker’s attorney, as soon as Walker became aware the story was causing an uproar, “he took steps himself to take the article off the website.”
Police arrested Walker, 35, in February 2008 after receiving complaints from the Internet Watch Foundation, an obscenity watchdog. Walker’s was the first case prosecuted under Britain’s Obscene Publications Act in nearly two decades. Walker lost his job as a result of his arrest.
Index on Censorship Editor Jo Glanville said the case may have been an example of over-zealous prosecution by lower-level crown barristers.
“Since the landmark obscenity cases of the ’60s and ’70s, writers have been protected from such prosecutions and have remained free to explore the extremes of human behaviour,” she told BBC News. “This case posed a serious threat to that freedom. In future, obscenity cases should be referred directly to the Director of Public Prosecutions before any prosecution is triggered.”
(Image: Girls Aloud)