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UofMich student expelled for "obscene" story on Net
From: David Farber <farber () central cis upenn edu>
Date: Sat, 4 Feb 1995 16:59:26 -0500

Slide down the slope and at the bottom no first ammendment?


From: jgull () umich edu (Jason Gull)
Newsgroups: comp.org.eff.talk
Subject: UofMich student expelled for "obscene" story on Net
Date: 4 Feb 1995 20:14:29 GMT
Organization: University of Michigan

The local (Ann Arbor, MI) paper ran a story yesterday regarding a
sophomore at the University of Michigan (whose name is Baker, I believe)
who was expelled yesterday (or Thursday) as a result of a story he
"transmitted on the Internet."

The story the student wrote apparently involved the brutal rape and
torture of a woman.  The name of the woman in the story is also the name
of another student on campus, which seems to have been the spark that got
the kid kicked out.  The story seems to have been in one of the alt.sex
USENET groups, because according to the paper, the story was first brought
to the attention of University officials by an alumnus  -- an attorney in
Moscow who just happened to spot the story on USENET.  The irony of the
fact that this morality-policeman in Moscow was scouring the alt.sex
groups is apparently lost on the Ann Arbor News.

What is truly frightening, and deserving of more coverage in the news, is
that the FBI is now investigating this kid, and an agent in the local FBI
office has officially stated that they're contemplating federal obscenity
charges against him.  Remember, this isn't pictures/video he's accused of
sending, it's purely text.  (Raunchy, disgusting text, I'm sure, but plain
'ol ASCII).

Anyone have any other news on this?  (I'll post more when I find it.)

Jason Gull
jgull () umich edu

Jason Gull                    Liberty is always dangerous. But it is
jgull () umich edu               the safest thing we have. - H.E.Fosdick


This is the article (alleged). I have no way of confirming
the validity of the article but I suspect it is real.



By Judson Branam
c. The Ann Arbor NEWS

  The University of Michigan is expelling a student who wrote a graphic
  fantasy of rape and torture that named a fellow student, then
  transmitted the story over Internet.  The author also may face federal
  obscenity charges.

  U-M officials first learned of the postings from a U-M alumnus who is
  an attorney in Moscow.  He reportedly saw the Jan. 9 story involving a
  female U-M student posted in a file reserved for sex stories, then
  complained to the University's computer network officials.

  The author of the fantasy, U-M sophomore Jake Baker, prefaced his
  stories with a disclaimer saying they contained "lots of sick stuff,"
  and he signed his real name to the postings.

  The story - titled with the woman's last name - describes torture with
  a hot curling iron, mutilation, and sodomy of a woman who is gagged
  and tied to a chair.  The story ends with Baker lighting a match, as
  if to torch the woman's apartment, and telling her goodbye.

  It was the inclusion of the other student's name in the graphically
  violent sex fantasy that made the matter more serious, said Captain
  James Smiley of the U-M Department of Public Safety.

  "He was asked to leave, and he's outta here," Smiley said.  "We think
  it's a very serious matter. When he named a student, that put a
  different light on it - he's just not fantasizing any more."

  But Baker's attorney, David Cahill of Ann Arbor, said it was just a

  "This guy has never, ever threatened or contacted this woman in any
  way," Cahill said.  We think it's unwarranted punishment for pure
  speech.  A rather violent and pornographic story, yes, but we don't
  think he has a problem.  We think he has an active imagination."

  U-M officials would only say Thursday that Baker, who is listed in
  University telephone and computer records, is not a student at the
  University.  They cited a federal privacy law baring the discussion of
  student records.

  Baker said he willingly cooperated with University and law enforcement
  officials over the posting, including undergoing evaluation from
  psychiatrists at the U-M Medical Center.

  "I regret posting all the stories in general," he said today, "and I
  deeply regret any harm I've done to her or anyone else. I'm more than
  willing to make up whatever harm I've done, but not to leave the

  Baker said he met with housing officials Monday, and was asked for a
  follow-up session early Thursday.

  After he refused to meet because he had an exam and hadn't found legal
  counsel, he said, a plainclothes DPS officer and two housing department
  officers were waiting for him when he came out of his class.  He was
  handed a notice of suspension, then taken back to his dorm room to
  quickly grab some clothes.  He spent Thursday night in a local hotel
  room, and he and Cahill met with housing officials today.

  Baker was suspended under an emergency order from U-M President James
  J. Duderstadt, acting with authority of a bylaw of the U-M Board of
  Regents that allows him to take necessary actions to keep order on
  campus.  Cahill said he believes this route was used because the
  University didn't have a strong enough case to pursue the matter under
  the more commonly used Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

  "The University has taken on the job of literary critic, and decided
  it's a campus emergency," Cahill said.  "I think they've overreacted to
  something that's constitutionally protected."

  But university suspension may be only the start of the Boardman, Ohio
  native's troubles.

  "The University contacted the FBI after it identified the student
  putting the snuff stories on the Internet, and we are looking at
  whether there was a violation of the federal obscenity statute," said
  FBI Special Agent Gregory Stejskal of the bureau's Ann Arbor office.
  "We're looking into the possibility of charging him with distribution
  of obscene material."

  Congress recently added computer trafficking to pornography laws, and
  Stejskal said this case is a new wrinkle in policing the rapidly
  growing worldwide network of computer systems.  Violation of the law is
  a felony that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

  "If its not the first," Stejskal said, "it's gotta be close to being
  the first case under it."


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