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Joanne Webb Agrees to Limited Gag Order

Burleson, Tx – A Burleson woman has agreed to quit publicizing details of the charges filed against her for selling sex toys to undercover police so she can continue a larger campaign to overturn the Texas obscenity law.

Attorneys for Joanne Webb and Johnson County prosecutors negotiated a limited gag order signed by County Judge Robert Mayfield. The order prohibits Webb, attorneys, police and others from discussing the Oct. 7 events that led to Class A misdemeanor obscenity charges against her.

Webb’s attorney, Beann Sisemore, said that she reluctantly agreed to the order so that Webb can be a spokeswoman for a federal lawsuit filed last week that challenges the Texas law used to prosecute Webb.

“I had serious misgivings about agreeing to any gag order,” Sisemore said. “But the facts of how she was arrested are not as relevant as the statute used to arrest her. We need Joanne to help us challenge this law.

“She’s our best spokeswoman. Absent this agreement, we feared she’d be silenced. We reached the agreement so we didn’t have a blanket gag order.”

Assistant County Attorney Erin Lamb said that the order accomplished what prosecutors sought — to keep Webb and her husband, Chris, from continuing to discuss specifics about her pending case, which probably will not be tried until summer.

In the meantime, Sisemore and Webb said, they will focus on the federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Dallas on behalf of eight women who, like Webb, are consultants for Passion Parties, a California-based company that demonstrates and sells sexual aids to women at home parties.

“I’m glad the gag order is partially lifted,” Webb said. “I’m going to continue to fight this law and educate women in the privacy of their homes where they request me to be.”

The federal lawsuit contends that Andrea C. Spencer of Arlington, Kelly Spears of Burleson, Carol Hill of Tarrant County, Avia Rice of Dallas, Leigh N. Scroggins of Plano, Georgette Taylor of Lake Dallas, Tresha Jackson of Fort Worth and Melissa Quintanilla of Saginaw have been afraid to have parties and sell products since the Nov. 13 arrest of another Passion Party consultant.

The suit does not specifically mention Webb, but Nov. 13 is the date she turned herself in to authorities after learning that a warrant had been issued for her arrest based on the Oct. 7 sale to undercover officers.

Since news of Webb’s prosecution, the suit says, consultants recruited by Andrea Spencer in Johnson County resigned out of fear of arrest. Kelly Spears canceled her application as a consultant along with her order from another consultant because she feared arrest, the suit contends.

Sisemore and co-counsel Steven Swander asked the federal court to declare the Texas obscenity law an unconstitutional violation of the right to sexual privacy.

While the suit is pending, the lawyers asked the court to prohibit Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Johnson County Attorney Bill Moore, Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford and Burleson Police Chief Tom Cowan from enforcing the obscenity law.



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