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Rick Krial obscenity case coming to a close; He Will Not Appeal, Be Prosecuted, But will Shut Down

STAUNTON — The 1 1/2-year-long porn war that pitted Staunton prosecutor Raymond C. Robertson against Rick E. Krial, owner of After Hours Video, could be nearing its close.

Krial, reached by phone Monday afternoon, confirmed that he has agreed not to appeal his obscenity convictions and in return will not be prosecuted on felony charges. Krial also has agreed not to reopen his Springhill Road adult video store.

“If the store stayed open, they were going to come at me with all the charges they could,” said Krial, who estimated he spent $150,000 in his defense.

Krial and his company, LSP of Virginia, LLC, were convicted in August by a seven-person jury on two misdemeanor obscenity charges following a week-long trial.

The trial centered around two of 12 videos purchased at After Hours Video by undercover agents in October 2007. Store manager Tinsley Embrey was acquitted of two charges by the jury.

The trial pitted Robertson and U.S. Department of Justice attorney Matthew Buzzelli against Paul Cambria Jr. of Buffalo, N.Y., and Louis Sirkin of Cincinnati, two of the nation’s top First Amendment lawyers who have been battle tested through years of obscenity trials that garnered the pair a nationwide reputation.

The Springhill Road store soon closed after the trial’s conclusion, but a sign posted on its front door said the move was only temporary. The store never again opened for business.

Two months after the verdicts were rendered the defense team, which included Tate Love of Staunton, filed motions to have the convictions set aside, citing numerous “improper statements” that were aimed at “inflaming the passions and prejudices of jurors.”

On Monday, though, Krial said the fight is over.

“Nobody needs this kind of aggravation,” he said.

Krial said other businesses in the city were selling adult videos at the time he applied for and was granted his business license. He said the charges against him came as a surprise.

“I didn’t expect it because it was already being sold in Staunton,” said Krial, a Manassas businessman who said he owns 11 adult enterprises in Maryland and Virginia. “I played by the rules the whole time.”

But in August 2007 when Robertson heard of Krial’s intentions, the prosecutor — ridiculed in many corners of the city for his stand — vowed he was “not going to allow dissemination of pornographic material in Staunton.”

In November 2007, Krial and his company were indicted by a special grand jury on 16 felonies and eight misdemeanors.

Krial said he agreed to the terms of the deal about two weeks ago, and said his attorney, Cambria, is expected to sign off on the court motion this week. Robertson declined to discuss the issue until an order is signed by Circuit Judge Thomas H. Wood ending the case.

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