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Phoenix porn studio owner to be tried on charges of running brothel

Posted: 1:20 PM, Jan 17, 2017
Updated: 2017-01-17 20:48:46Z

The owner of a business in an industrial area of Phoenix says he was running a legitimate porn studio where amateurs could rent cameras, lights and props to create their own sex scenes with the help of a model.

Authorities, however, say it was nothing more than a cleverly disguised brothel raking in $40,000 a month in profits.

Owner William James Hartwell denies running a prostitution ring and in court records accuses the government of criminalizing free speech protected by the First Amendment.

He will go on trial next week on charges of operating a house of prostitution, sex trafficking and sexual assault in an intriguing legal clash over the First Amendment.

Hartwell says the sex acts that were recorded and photographed amount to constitutionally protected free speech practiced in the same way as professional porn studios that legally operate.