NEW YORK A court can ban a paroled sex offender from possessing pornography without violating the Constitution, a federal appeals panel said yesterday.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made its ruling in the case of Christopher J. Farrell, saying "pornographic materials at least those that are not obscene receive full First Amendment protection when in the possession of ordinary adults but may be regulated in the hands of parolees to a much greater extent."
Farrell had asked a Manhattan judge to find his constitutional rights were violated when he was banned by parole officers from possessing pornographic material after he finished serving four years in prison for a sex crime. He argued that the ban was unconstitutionally vague in its description and created a danger of arbitrary enforcement.
In its ruling, the unanimous three-judge panel noted that it had found in previous cases that the term "pornography" was inherently vague. But it said a book found in Farrell's possession, Scum: True Homosexual Experiences, fell within any reasonable understanding of the meaning of pornography.
"The pictures in 'Scum' appear alongside stories that are as wholly designed to arouse your sexual appetite as any we can imagine," the appeals panel wrote in Farrell v. Burke.
In October 1990, Farrell admitted in a New York state court that he paid four boys between the ages of 13 and 16 to have sex with him at his home between November 1988 and January 1990, the appeals court said.
The no-pornography condition was imposed on him while he was on parole from Oct. 18, 1994, through Oct. 17, 1996.
On May 29, 1996, parole officers were questioning him at his home when they saw three questionable publications on a bookcase near his bed, including Scum, which contains stories describing sex between men and boys, the court said.
Farrell's parole was revoked, and he was locked up again until Oct. 17, 1996.
A lawyer for Farrell did not immediately return a telephone message for comment yesterday.