From Polk County to Colorado, an arrest for obscenity

BARTOW – It’s not common for sheriff’s deputies in Polk County, Florida to arrest someone in Pueblo, Colorado. But that’s exactly what the Polk County Sheriff’s Office did when Phillip R. Greaves, 47, was booked into the Polk County Jail around 11 a.m.  today.

He was charged with Distribution of Obscene Material Depicting Minors Engaged in Conduct Harmful to Minors, a third degree felony under Florida Statute 847.011(1)(C).

His offense was selling a copy of his book, “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure; A Child-lover’s Code of Conduct” to an undercover Polk County deputy.

Why target someone living halfway across the country?

Does the U.S. Constitution protect offensive speech and written materials?

Undercover detectives from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office had contacted Greaves and asked to buy his book, following a flurry of national media reports about it.  Online retail giant had dropped the self-published e-book from its Kindle store in November, after public outrage that it got listed there to begin with. It had gone on sale Oct. 28 and cost $4.79 to download.

According to a news release by the sheriff’s office, “Greaves mailed what he referred to as his own personal copy of his book, signed, after being paid $50, to an address in Lakeland, Fla., within the jurisdiction of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.  Detectives and attorneys reviewed the book, presented the material to Polk County Judge J. Michael McCarthy, who found probable cause that Greaves distributed obscene material depicting minors engaged in activities harmful to minors.”

McCarthy issued a Polk County warrant for Greaves’ arrest, with a bond of $15,000 pending his first appearance in the Florida 10th Judicial Circuit jurisdiction.  Detectives flew to Pueblo and worked with the Pueblo Police Department to bring Greaves into custody.

Scott H. Wilder, director of communications for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, said the book is “all written material” and does not contain sexually explicit photographs of minors. So how can the book not be protected under constitutionally protected free speech rights?

“You might be conflating with two different legal theories,” Wilder said. “One theory is child pornography, and there is a clear ruling for the state by the (U.S.) Supreme Court that child pornography has to be images. We are not charging him under child pornography statutes. This is obscenity, and it is a third degree felony, not a first degree felony as child pornography would be.”

The sheriff’s office cited two “graphic stories” in the book that depict an adult engaged in sexual acts with children, and which describe “adult genital contact and oral penetration with a 9-year-old boy and with a 13-year-old boy.”

The book also “defends, advocates, and trains adults regarding illegal sex acts between adults and children,” the sheriff’s office wrote in its official press statement following the arrest.

The sheriff’s office also quoted passages in the book, such as “Pedophiles, we must remember, care for and befriend their young lovers.  They are concerned for the wellbeing and pleasure of their little friends, always putting the juvenile’s pleasure and happiness first.”  According to the sheriff’s office, the context here is that “Greaves attempts to differentiate between pedophiles who ‘care for’ children and pedophiles who ‘rape’ children.”

Material like this, Wilder said, violates Florida’s obscenity law because it encourages dangerous sexual behavior against children.

“This is clearly written in Florida statutes that we can make an arrest on this,” he said. “The best kind of argument is local standards — what may be considered obscene in Polk County may not be obscene in New York City. Certainly in our opinion it’s not a free speech right. There are not unlimited free speech rights. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater.”

Wilder said the book could be viewed as encouraging obscene, harmful contact with children.

“Woven throughout these stories are hints for predators on how they should teat the child, and those sorts of things,” Wilder said. “It’s a clear kind of guidebook for pedophiles and it kind of gives them grooming, on how to groom a child and stay on a first name basis. The book, taken as a whole, specifically is covered by Florida statutes. It specifically addresses that this is obscene material that depicts a minor engaged in any act or conduct that is harmful to minors. Remember, something can be obscene even when we’re not talking about the definition of pornography.”

Florida Statute 847.011: Prohibition of certain acts in connection with obscene, lewd, etc., materials; penalty, states that any person who sells or distributes materials “that depict a minor engaged in any act or conduct that is harmful to minors commits a felony of the third degree … A person’s ignorance of a minor’s age, a minor’s misrepresentation of his or her age, a bona fide belief of a minor’s age, or a minor’s consent may not be raised as a defense in a prosecution for one or more violations ….”

While the Polk County Sheriff’s Office was targeting Greaves, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office’s Cyber Crimes detectives completed a three day long undercover operation on Dec. 15 that resulted in three very different kinds of arrests.

During the operation, the three suspects contacted undercover detectives both online and by telephone. According to Lake County deputies, the men thought they were communicating with the parent/guardian of a teenage child between 13 and 14 years old, and made arrangements to meet with the parents so they could perform a sex act on the child.

As the men – later identified as James Poland, 61, Travis Morton, 24, and Steven Austin, 33 – got to the pre-arranged meeting locations, they were taken into custody without incident. 

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With holiday fare underway, Celebration attracts unwanted national publicity for two violent deaths.

CELEBRATION – Just as this community was gearing up to celebrate the holidays with snow, tree lightings and carriage rides, media coverage of Celebration’s 12th Annual Now Snowing event got shunted aside by ongoing reports about two violent deaths in a community known, until this month, for never having experienced a murder before.

On Nov. 27, Celebration kicked off the community’s annual holiday events with a special tree lighting ceremony that featured live music, an appearance by Santa Claus, and manufactured snow falling on Market Street.

The town of Celebration hopes to attract people to its Now Snowing Nightly monthlong holiday event, but that got overshadowed by two violent deaths.

Just a few days later, though, the community was back in the spotlight, this time nationally, and not for the holiday fare.

Earlier this week, Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives released the name of the Celebration murder victim, 58-year-old Matteo P. Giovanditto.  Two days earlier, Osceola deputies had responded to a call from a neighbor who told them she went to check on Giovanditto and found him dead in his Water Street condo.

Not much information has been released about the case. The investigation is on-going, with detectives calling the death “suspicious.” This is believed to be the first homicide in the community.

It wasn’t the only death to make the news in Celebration this week.

On Dec. 3 at 2:20 a.m., deputies finally got into a Yew Court home after hours of negotiations. A Celebration man had barricaded himself inside the house, but when deputies got in there, they found him dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was later identified as Craig Foushee, 52. The previous day, deputies had spent more than 14 hours negotiating with Foushee, even sending tear gas into the house in an effort to get inside.

It started after Foushee, who was alone inside the house, indicated he might harm himself, the sheriff’s office said. As a precaution, several local streets were closed and residents in the vicinity of the house got evacuated.  Schools were put on lockdown, and deputies worked with school officials to ensure students could leave at the regular time.

Twis Lizasuain, public information officer for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, noted that this was done because Foushee shot at deputies several times earlier in the evening when SWAT team members tried a forced entry through his front door, and later during ongoing negotiations. Although no deputies were injured, Lizasuain noted that deputies didn’t return fire because they couldn’t focus on a target.

After more than two hours without any communication, deputies used a robot to locate Foushee, just before a SWAT team entered the house.

The sheriff’s office noted that this case isn’t related to the Celebration homicide investigation, and Foushee’s death was turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for further investigation.

The two cases attracted plenty of local media coverage from Orlando area television stations, but also ended up making the national news as well. CNN Headline News covered the two incidents on Friday, with a special mention of Celebration being a town originally sponsored by Walt Disney World.

The incidents happened just as the Osceola County community was hoping for solid attendance for Town Center’s annual holiday events.

Now Snowing, as the ongoing holiday event is called, features the manufactured snow along with an ice rink, a remodeled Celebration Express Train and a “Winter Wonderland Spectacular” featuring strolling Charles Dickens carolers, photos with Santa, and horse drawn carriage rides. The snow falls nightly in Town Center at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m.

The month long holiday event includes a special Radio Disney Holiday concert on Saturday, Dec. 11 featuring All-Star Weekend and the winner of this year’s nationwide NBT contest on Radio Disney. The event ends with a New Year’s Eve Celebration including live entertainment starting at 6 p.m. and fireworks at midnight on Dec. 31. There will also be community performances in Celebration on Jan. 1-2.

To learn more about Celebration’s holiday activities, log on to or call 407-566-4007.

A true Peter Pan

Peter Pan flies over the Downtown Disney Marketplace, representing all boys who never want to grow up. For one former Fort Lauderdale adult, though, wanting to stay a boy meant he paid a high price.

ODESS, TEXAS – Peter Pan spoke about never growing up. And apparently some take that a little too far.

Consider the case of one “kid” from Florida who really didn’t want to grow up.

Starting in February 2009, a 22-year-old named Guerdich Montimere started posing as a 15-year-old high schooler named “Jerry Joseph.” Why? In order to play high school basketball, it seems.

Montimere, a 2007 Fort Lauderdale graduate, had been living in Odessa, Texas while attending Permian High School, and lived with Permian basketball coach Danny Wright – all the while posing as Joseph, a “Haitian orphan.”

School officials and the local media received anonymous tips in April 2010 of his true identity, and an investigation was opened up. Since his initial arrest earlier this spring for providing fake information to police – on which he bonded out – he got arrested again the next day for tampering with government records and bonded out again for $7,500. He was again arrested the following day for engaging in sexual relations with a minor, and bond was set at $50,000.

He faces up to 20 years if convicted.

Apparently a student had come forward stating that Montimere had had a sexual relationship with her while posing as Johnson, portraying himself as being just 15 years old. He was, in reality, seven years old.

I guess he truly was a Peter Pan fan.

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