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Joanne Webb: I’m Free

Joanne Webb posts: Yes, it is true! Though I have not received anything in writing, I have read in our local paper that the county attorney and the judge in my case have decided to drop the charges against me. Now I can focus on our Federal case challenging the constitutionality of the law I was arrested under! My whole family is so relieved and excited! It’s as though a cloud has been lifted from over us. We can breathe again. This is far from over though. A woman’s right to be educated on her sexuality should never be considered obscene. Though my personal fight is ending, the fight to overturn this law is just beginning! Thank you so much for all your support! Please don’t stop!!! Joanne

Burleson, TX- After months in the national spotlight, the prosecution of a Burleson woman for selling sex toys ended quietly this week with judge’s dismissal of the case at the county attorney’s request, the Times-Review has learned.

In a statement released late Friday afternoon, Johnson County Attorney Bill Moore said his office filed a motion with County Court at Law No. 1 Judge Robert Mayfield to dismiss the misdemeanor case against Joanne Webb “in the interest of efficient application of justice in the use of county resources.”

Mayfield agreed to drop the case, according to Moore’s statement, which does not indicate when the dismissal occurred. Moore could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday morning.

Moore said Burleson’s recently revised sexually oriented business ordinance regulates the operation of sex businesses and that a pending federal lawsuit filed by Webb’s attorney would determine the constitutionality of the state obscenity statue Webb was accused of violating.

Webb’s attorney, BeAnn Sisemore of Fort Worth, who learned of the dismissal Saturday morning, called Moore’s decision “brave.”

“We’re very excited about it,” Sisemore said. “We knew that it was a possibility, but we weren’t contacted.”

Webb, 43, is not named in the federal suit, but she may join the case as soon as next week, Sisemore said.

“It’s a victory, but absolutely it’s not the end of the fight, and now that real fight can begin,” the attorney said.

Webb could not immediately be reached for comment.

The plaintiffs seek to prevent Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford, County Attorney Moore and Burleson Police Chief Tom Cowan from seeking prosecutions under Penal Code 43.23. It asks U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay to find prosecutions under the statute unconstitutional invasions of privacy.

The code defines an obscene device as a simulated sexual organ or an item designed to stimulate the genitals. Adult stores commonly skirt the law by posting signs that say the devices are “sold only as novelties.”

Webb was charged under the code with promoting obscene items after she sold two vibrators to undercover police officers posing as a married couple Oct. 7. Burleson police said they received an anonymous tip about Webb, who had sold what she calls “marital aids” as one of San Francisco-based Passion Parties Inc.’s 3,000 national consultants since June 2003.

The products, which include lotions, creams and vibrators, are sold in gatherings similar to Tupperware parties that are open to women only.

Sisemore and Webb appeared numerous times on national television blasting the prosecution. They said Webb was arrested only because she explained to women how to use the devices and that the law was so broad that retailers such as Wal-Mart could be prosecuted for selling condoms advertised “for his (or her) pleasure.”

Webb turned herself in to the Johnson County Corrections Center Nov. 13 and posted bail after authorities called and told her a warrant had been issued for her arrest. She faced up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.



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