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Former Cop and Wife Sentenced

DALLAS – A former Dallas police officer and his wife were sentenced to federal prison terms for violating federal obscenity laws by selling videos via the Internet that featured graphic rape and sexual torture.

Garry Ragsdale, 35, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison and his wife, Tamara, 33, was sentenced to 30 months. In October, a jury found the Fort Worth couple guilty of one count of conspiracy to mail obscene material and two counts of mailing obscene material.

Appearing before U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater, Garry Ragsdale apologized to his family and asked the judge not to punish his wife.

“I’d like to do her time because she’s done nothing but be a faithful wife to me, doing what I asked her to do,” he said.

His wife apologized to their three children, one of whom — a 2-year-old boy — was in the courtroom, and she asked Fitzwater for leniency for their sake.

“We’ve been put through so much. … One mistake that we made and our children are going to pay for it the rest of their lives,” she said, sobbing.

Her attorney, Richard Goldman, asked that she be given a lighter sentence because she was just following along with her husband. Goldman said that she thought the videos were legal to sell and immediately stopped distributing them when questions arose. He also said that she cooperated with prosecutors by supplying them with e-mail and other documents.

Attorneys for the Ragsdales said that there are strong First Amendment grounds for appealing the couple’s conviction.

They contend that the couple was distributing legal pornography to consenting adults who requested the videos, which they said featured consenting adult actors who were depicting rape.

“You can go on the Internet and find these very same videos being sold openly and notoriously and nobody’s being prosecuted,” said Clint Broden, Garry Ragsdale’s attorney.

Broden said a prosecutor in Maryland declined to prosecute in a separate case involving one of the same videos.

Investigators learned of the Ragsdales’ business in 1998 and determined that their Web site marketed “real rape” videos. They ordered the videos that were shipped via U.S. mail.

Later that year, the Dallas Police Department fired Garry Ragsdale, who had been on the force for eight years, for conduct unbecoming of an officer, according to police officials.

The Ragsdales were convicted in October and will remain free on bail while the case is being appealed.

 

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