Residents and officials of a southwestern Illinois city are mad because they were not given more notice that a sex convention was headed their way.
At least two dozen Fairview Heights residents gathered at a public meeting Thursday to complain that they were not consulted before the "Beat Me in St. Louis" convention was booked at the city-owned Fountains at Fairview Conference Center, which is attached to an adjacent Four Points by Sheraton Hotel.
The three-day convention, which was advertised as a private event that had its windows covered, included water torture and bondage sessions, The
Law enforcement officials said they provided extra patrol in the area during the event and no incidents were reported.
Some city aldermen blamed Mayor Gail Mitchell, who is seeking re-election in April. A flier distributed by an alderman said he allowed a secret "porn convention" to taint the city's image.
Mitchell said he was notified about the convention on the day of the event and could not have prevented it. ...
Two dozen Fairview Heights residents showed up Thursday to a special meeting called to discuss outrage over a "porn convention" held in the southwestern Illinois town earlier this month.
The event, titled "Beat Me in St. Louis," took place March 18-20 at the town's convention center and adjoining Sheraton Four Points hotel. The organization behind the conference, StL3, is perhaps better known as the St. Louis Leather and Lace, a group that, according to its website, "formed in 1997 to meet the needs of a growing BDSM community in the St. Louis metropolitan area."
Beat Me in St. Louis (not to be confused with the organization's annual fall meeting, "Spanksgiving") reportedly featured sessions on water torture and bondage and drew a crowd. StL3 rented out the entire hotel and convention center for its members to meet, mingle and -- presumably -- "beat" each other.
But should the convention have occurred at a city-owned convention center? As the Belleville News-Democrat reported last week, Beat Me in St. Louis was still underway March 19 when a city alderman, and political rival of Fairview Heights mayor Gail Mitchell, began passing out fliers to town residents saying that the "porn convention" had the blessing of the city's top official.
Not so, responds Mitchell, who says he was powerless to stop the event under the lease the city had with St. Louis-based Lodging and Hospitality Management (LHM) to operate the convention center and hotel operator. At Thursday's meeting, residents generally sided with the mayor.
Aldermen bickered Thursday night over responsibility for a sex-themed convention held in the city last weekend.
The event, billed as "Beat Me in St. Louis," was the focus of heated discussion at a meeting of the Board of Aldermen's law enforcement committee.
"This may not be the type of event we may want to be known for," Alderman Sandy Baldwin said. "I think of Fairview as being a place with great Midwest values. I don't believe (holding the convention here) would fit in with most residents' value system."
The convention, held at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel and the Fountains Conference Center, was promoted as an exclusive event. It included sessions on water torture and bondage and clothing optional swimming.
Alderman Norm Miller said the hotel posted signs saying it was closed for a private function. Windows also were covered.
The issue, said Alderman Pat Baeske, is that the city sold itself short in the contract with the hotel. She said the city has no say in events there, although the convention center is city-owned. ...
An anonymous flier accused Mayor Gail Mitchell of allowing a sex convention in town last weekend, but the mayor said he had no say in the private event.
The "Beat Me in St. Louis" event at the Fountains at Fairview was for people exploring or practicing bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism in sexual relationships. The conference center and adjoining Four Points by Sheraton hotel were closed to the public from Friday to Sunday.
On Saturday, some Fairview residents received a political flier that said Mitchell allowed a "porn convention on city-owned property" and tried to keep the event a secret, and questioned whether his continued leadership would benefit the city.
Mitchell, who is up for re-election in April, said the flier was inaccurate and "the lowest political thing that somebody could stoop to."
Mitchell said he could not stop a private event that did not violate any criminal or city code. When he found out about the event Friday afternoon, he had the Police Department and city attorney look into the matter.
"You bet I would have stopped it if I could have, because I don't want that kind of stuff going on in my city," Mitchell said. ...
An anonymous flier was distributed in Fairview, Ill., notifying residents that Mayor Gail Mitchell had "allowed" a group of bondage enthusiasts to hold “Beat Me in St. Louis” in the Fountains at Fairview and the adjoining Four Points by Sheraton hotel. The flier's author called the conference a “porn convention on city-owned property,” and claimed Mitchell did what he could to keep it a secret.
Mitchell says he couldn't have stopped the conference if he wanted to. But he absolutely wanted to.
“You bet I would have stopped it if I could have, because I don't want that kind of stuff going on in my city,” Mitchell said. Lawmakers say the conference will be the first item on the agenda at their committee meeting. And Mitchell had the police department and city attorney look into the matter. ...
Pornography now has its own online domain -- to the chagrin of pro-family advocates.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees the creation of Web addresses, approved the establishment of the .xxx domain for sexually explicit material in a 9-3 vote at the March 18 meeting of its board in San Francisco.
The decision does not mean all pornographic sites will be limited to the .xxx domain, however. Porn businesses still will be able to use .com and other domains.
Pro-family leaders decried ICANN's action.
"The addition of this new domain will just make the Internet even more of a moral minefield," said Dwayne Hastings, vice president at the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "Anything that further legitimizes pornography as a morally neutral endeavor is not good."
Pat Trueman, chief executive officer of Morality in Media, said the new domain "would increase, not decrease[,] the spread of pornography on the Internet, causing even more harm to children, families and communities, and make ICANN complicit in that harm."
The spread of online pornography will come with great costs, opponents said.
"Pornography is not a victimless crime," Hastings said. "It contributes to prostitution, sex trafficking and sexual assaults. It destroys lives and tears families apart. ...
One of five Missouri men accused of participating in the sexual slavery of a mentally disabled woman admitted in federal court Thursday that he tortured her and paid to watch another man torture her.
James Noel, 45, of Springfield, Mo., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Kansas City to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, although he has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and could be rewarded with a lesser sentence.
Authorities began investigating last year, after the woman had a heart attack and was treated at a hospital in Springfield.
She had been living in the trailer home of Ed Bagley near Lebanon, Mo. Authorities claim that Bagley held her against her will, forced her to undergo torture and sex acts and rented her out to other men.
One of those others, officials allege, is Kirkwood resident Bradley Cook, of the 11500 block of Big Bend Road.
Bagley and his wife, Marilyn Bagley, told the Post-Dispatch after Bagley's indictment that the sex was consensual and the "torture" was actually role-playing — part of a chosen lifestyle involving bondage and acts of sadism and masochism. They, and Lebanon-area residents who were interviewed, said the woman showed to signs of being mentally disabled.
In Noel's plea, however, he said that he knew that the woman "was not smart and did not appear to have a full mental capacity of someone her age." He also said she "lacked the ability to communicate normally and had a limited vocabulary" and was an unwilling participant in the torture.
Noel said that he originally heard about her from a co-defendant, Michael Stokes. Authorities allege that both men watched as Bagley tortured the woman. Noel tortured the woman himself and paid Bagley $300 to watch a two- to three-hour session, Noel's plea agreement says. ...
Morality in Media announced today its strong opposition to the creation of .xxx domain, which ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) will determine by vote on Friday, March 18.
"The establishment of a .xxx domain would increase, not decrease the spread of pornography on the Internet, causing even more harm to children, families and communities, and make ICANN complicit in that harm," said Patrick Trueman, CEO of Morality in Media and former chief of the U.S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Criminal Division.
"There is no evidence that the public wants or needs this domain. In fact, each time this idea has been proposed it has been overwhelmingly opposed by the public and governments throughout the world," said Trueman.
Hardcore obscene pornography on the Internet is already a violation of U.S. law. However, the U.S. Department of Justice under U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is not enforcing the law. Trueman said those who argue that the Internet porn problem can be solved by establishing a new .xxx domain and then passing a federal law requiring pornographers to use that domain are mistaken.
"It would not only be unconstitutional to force pornography from the .com domain, but, if the Department of Justice is not prosecuting Internet porn companies now for violating U.S. obscenity laws, it is not going to prosecute such companies for merely locating in the wrong address."
Pornography addiction is rampant, leading to grave social costs that are documented at www.pornharms.com. "A more appropriate goal should be to stop the distribution of this destructive material by prosecuting those responsible for it, not protect pornography through the use of an .xxx domain," said Trueman. "We take this opportunity to urge U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to enforce federal obscenity laws."