Saturday, January 24, 2004
Arrest Startles Saleswomen of Sex Toys
NYT: "Passion Parties, which is holding its annual convention here, represents a subset of the sex industry that uses Tupperware-style marketing and underscores how mainstream sex toys have become. What may have once been purchased from burly guys behind the counter in seedy pornography shops is now for sale in the living rooms of teachers, nurses, grandmothers and housewives who say their business is more educational than titillating.

So it came as a shock to this sales cadre when one of their own was recently arrested by two undercover police officers in Burleson, Tex., and now faces a misdemeanor obscenity charge that could send her to jail for up to one year.

No one is more surprised than the woman herself, Joanne Webb, 43, a Passion Parties representative whose business had even joined the local chamber of commerce before law enforcement officials got an anonymous call about her in October.

'It's ludicrous,' said Ms. Webb, who is married, has three children and was welcomed here with hugs and donations to a defense fund. 'Just the idea of being convicted of something like this is disgusting.'

Ms. Webb is accused of violating a state law that prohibits the sale of obscene devices, defined as items 'designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.'

Johnson County prosecutors in Texas refused to comment on the case, but Ms. Webb's lawyer in Fort Worth, BeAnn Sisemore, plans to challenge the law as unconstitutional. Ms. Sisemore said that even condoms could be considered an obscene device by the logic of the law.

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