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NEWS

Signatures formally close porn case appeal

By Brad Zinn

 A court order has been signed that officially ends the city's pursuit of Rick Krial, the owner of the now-defunct After Hours Video who was convicted in August on two misdemeanor obscenity charges.


Krial and his company, LSP of Virginia, LLC, were found guilty by a seven-person jury following a week-long obscenity trial, setting the stage for possible future felony convictions. But according to the court order, Staunton prosecutor Raymond C. Robertson will no longer pursue 16 felony charges against Krial and the company. In return, Krial has agreed to drop a motion to set aside the verdicts and will not appeal the convictions. Krial also agreed not to reopen After Hours Video — the shell of the business is still located on Springhill Road — or any other adult video store in Staunton.

"If he does, he's running the risk of a felony," Robertson said.

Krial and the company were fined $2,500 and ordered to pay $160 in court costs. Last month, Krial estimated he spent $150,000 on his defense.

After Hours Video opened in October 2007. A month later, following the purchases of 12 DVDs by undercover police officers at the store, a Staunton grand jury slapped Krial and the company with 16 felonies and eight misdemeanor charges of obscenity.

The ensuing court battle pitted Robertson, with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, against Paul Cambria Jr. of Buffalo, N.Y., and Louis Sirkin of Cincinnati, two of the nation's top First Amendment lawyers. Sirkin represented Tinsley Embrey, a manager at After Hours Video who was charged with six felonies and four misdemeanors. Tried on two misdemeanors, Embrey was acquitted by the same jury that convicted Krial.

Despite being the clear winner in the porn battle, Robertson was ridiculed by many for his prosecution of Krial. On Thursday, he said he received many favorable responses as well through letters of support and e-mails. Robertson said he has no regrets.

"It was worth it. We got stuff out of Staunton that breeds others crimes and socially unacceptable behavior," he said.

Robertson also argued Thursday the side effects of pornography aren't shown. "There's never venereal disease or pregnancies in these films," he said.

Robertson went on to say that Staunton is better off without After Hours Video or any other establishment selling adult films. "It's just about caring about the quality of life that you have in your jurisdiction," he said. "There's a reason we don't have an AIDS epidemic in this area, you know?"

Andrea Oakes, a Staunton City council member who before to her election headed up the Citizens' Task Force Against Pornography, a key player in getting the city to change two ordinances regulating adult businesses, said news of the court order "is a victory for the city and Staunton as a whole."

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