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Court to Use Ohio Case to Rule on Outlawing Child Nudity Material

June 26, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court, setting the stage for an important child pornography ruling, said today it will decide whether states may outlaw possession of ″lewd″ material depicting child nudity.

The court said it will use an Ohio case to explore how far states may go to protect children without violating freedom of expression.

The justices ruled in 1982 that states may outlaw material depicting sexual performances by children. But that ruling stopped short of banning mere possession of ″kiddie porn.″

That ruling was aimed at such activities as photographing minors in lewd poses or promoting or distributing the material.

In the case acted on today, the court will hear arguments during its 1989-90 term beginning in October, with a ruling not expected until sometime in 1990.

The case stems from the prosecution of Clyde J. Osborne, 61, of Columbus, who was sentenced to six months in jail for possessing four photos of a nude boy. Prosecutors said he got the photos from a Florida mail-order business and had placed them in a photo album in his home.

Columbus police searched his home in July 1985 after being told by a Florida postal inspector that two people arrested there said Osborne had bought photos of nude boys.

The Ohio Supreme Court last July upheld the state law against possessing child pornography.

The law makes exceptions for parents or guardians of a child or for material that serves a ″bona fide artistic, religious, governmental, judicial or other proper purpose.″

The state court rejected arguments that the law is too vague or that someone can be convicted under it without realizing he or she is committing a crime.

″We have no difficulty finding that the jury would have believed beyond a reasonable doubt that (Osborne) was aware of the nature of the photographs,″ the state court said.

An anticipated U.S. Supreme Court showdown over possession of child pornography fizzled last Wednesday when the justices sent a Massachusetts case back to that state’s courts for further action.

The case acted on today is Osborne vs. Ohio, 88-5986.

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