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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene has been indicted on two counts of obscenity by a grand jury in South Carolina. Greene allegedly showed a female student at the University of South Carolina pornography at a college computer lab, then discussed going to her dorm room.
His arrest was reported the day after he won the primary by The Associated Press. The indictment puts Greene's already longshot candidacy in jeopardy. Greene defeated Vic Rawl, a former judge, despite having no website, fundraising, staff, or doing any substantial campaigning. Greene is set to face off against the Republican incumbent, Senator James DeMint, in November.
The first of the two charges is a felony with a maximum sentence of five years for "disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity." The second charge is a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of three years for "communicating an obscene message to another person without consent."
Obscenity law is notoriously complex and difficult to define. In short, obscenity is an act, utterance, or item tending to corrupt the public morals by its indecency or lewdness. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said of obscenity, "I know it when I see it," in the case Jacobellis v. Ohio in 1964. The phrase became one of the most famous expressions in Supreme Court history.
On the bright side for Alvin Greene, if he somehow manages to win the election, even a felony conviction would not prohibit him for taking office. Under South Carolina law, felons may not serve in state office, but they are welcome in both the U.S. House and Senate.