Thirty years ago Richard Whittman Barker stopped by the University of Pittsburgh bookstore to buy a photography book he'd read about in an issue of Playboy magazine.
When state troopers found "Show Me! A Picture Book of Sex for Children and Parents" in a search of the 66-year-old man's Glenshaw home in 2004 they charged him with a violation of the state pornography laws.
But Senior Common Pleas Judge John K. Reilly ruled yesterday that Mr. Barker, a Westinghouse retiree with an otherwise spotless record, had not violated the law because the 176-page hardcover book police found in a locked filing cabinet was published three years before anti-pornography laws existed.
Written in 1974 by German physician Helga Fleischhauer-Hardt, the book features black-and-white photographs of naked girls and boys posing alone, together and with naked adults.
An explanatory note in the 1975 English edition by Will McBride says the publishers "are relying on the discretion of adults" to use it for sex education and to promote "the sexual liberation of children and adolescents."
The federal anti-pornography law passed in 1978 followed by a state law banning the purchase and use of child pornography.
Mr. Barker became a suspect after he was caught on a surveillance camera dumping bags of girls' panties and bras in trash bins at a medical clinic in Beachwood, Ohio, on Sept. 11, 2004.
Trooper Robert Ederly, of the Indiana barracks, traced the vehicle registration to Mr. Barker, who consented to a search of his home on Sept. 15. Police seized three computers and nine books, from a file cabinet in his bedroom.
Mr. Barker was never charged with anything related to the dumping incident in Ohio; the only charge he faced was possession of child pornography.
Yesterday, Assistant District Attorney Dan Cuddy only questioned Trooper Ederly about the book "Show Me!" He argued that by having what the defendant called "a sex education" book in his home, Mr. Barker, who is unmarried and childless, broke the law.
Attorney Stanton Levenson told the judge, "Our position is this case should never have been prosecuted."
"I'm a Penn State graduate," the judge said, "I don't know what they do at the University of Pittsburgh," but the fact that the book was sold legally in the campus bookstore convinced him Mr. Barker had not broken the laws at the time.
"I find the defendant not guilty," Judge Reilly said.
Gabrielle Banks can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1370.