DA seeks new strategy to prosecute porn case

Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a ruling Friday saying that Randall County District Attorney James Farren can prosecute the Amarillo father under a Texas public indecency law because bringing charges "is within the prosecutor's substantial discretion."

Farren, who had asked for Abbott's opinion because the law apparently protects the father, said he believes he can't get a conviction, but that he is exploring ways of prosecuting the man.

"While we have been waiting for this opinion, we haven't been sitting still," Farren said. "We have not decided not to file the case. We have decided we are going to continue this investigation under a new theory of prosecution."

He declined to elaborate a possible strategies.

"If the evidence bears out what I suspect, then I believe there is a way to prosecute this case," Farren said.

The law apparently was meant to protect the privacy of parents who want to teach their children about sex education. It states clearly that parents can't be prosecuted for showing "harmful material" to their children.

The father is accused of showing hardcore online pornography to his 8- and 9-year-old daughters in his Amarillo home early last year. The father has not been charged with a crime.

Police reported the incident to Farren's office after one of the girls told a counselor in June that her father made them watch adults having sex on his computer at his home in Amarillo. The parents of the girls, and their 7-year-old sister, are divorced and at the time shared custody.

The girls' mother, Crystal Buckner, said Monday she won temporary custody in September. Her girls' visits with their father are now supervised, she said.

She said she would support Farren prosecuting her ex-husband.

"I know that he is outraged about the loophole in the law, and as long as he is willing to move forward I'm in Dallas here to support him," she said. "I'm pretty confident he's going to keep fighting."

She has said she doesn't want to keep parents from teaching sex education to their children but believes there is a line that shouldn't be crossed.

The Associated Press typically does not publish the names of parents if it could identify children who might have been abused, but Buckner is seeking publicity about the case so the law changes. She has the backing of state Sen. Bob Deuell, a Republican from Greenville, who has said he's planning to push for a change in the law in the 2011 legislative session.

Buckner said the incident happened early last year. Her three children were watching a movie, though the youngest one had fallen asleep. Buckner said the girls' father was at his computer and told the girls to come look at what the screen.

She said she "was outraged" when she first learned of the allegation.

"I was shaking," Buckner said. "I just couldn't believe my 8- and 9-year old daughters know more than teenagers know about sex."
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