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Groups call for criminal investigation into El Paso County schools for ‘obscene’ books

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- About 20 conservative groups signed off on a letter to 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen, asking him to criminally investigate El Paso County schools for promoting and possessing “obscene materials.”

The letter references multiple books in El Paso County schools with clear sexual excerpts and images, which these conservative groups say are “pornographic.” They believe the obscene material “rises to the level of criminal behavior” and violates federal and state laws.

“If I gave those books to my neighbor's children, my neighbor's first response would probably be to pick up the phone and call the police,” said Darcy Schoening, a representative for Moms for Liberty, one of the conservative groups that signed the letter.

Colorado’s definition of obscenity is “offensive representations or descriptions of sex acts” and the whole work “lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.” According to Colorado law, the “wholesale promotion of obscenity to a minor” is a Class 6 Felony, which is why these conservative groups are asking for the DA’s Office to launch a criminal investigation.

“We ask you to compel districts within El Paso County and affiliates, including any non-profit organization or doctrinally motivated extremist group implicit in the wholesale promotion, display, or possession of obscene material, refrain from engaging in clear criminal activity or be held to penalties for each infraction, also as required by law,” the letter states.

“We're asking our DA to look at these books and ask himself, ‘Do these belong in front of children, and are the adults that are giving these books to children criminally liable?” Schoening said.

Rob Rogers, a parent of a D20 student and the Vice Chair for the El Paso County Democratic Party, said calling for a criminal investigation into books is “ridiculous.”

“There may be some sexually explicit passages that are included, but as a whole, these works have value,” Rogers said. “This is just a political stunt that is intended to continue the effort to erode trust in public education as an institution.”

Republican State Representative Rose Pugliese, who represents El Paso County, also sent a letter to Allen, although she didn’t go as far as calling for a criminal investigation. Instead, she asked Allen for his legal assistance to determine if the books are at the level of pornography.

“Where the DA can really serve as kind of an intermediary is to really talk about what the law says, whether this rises to the level and provide some resources,” Pugliese said.

Pugliese said she wants Allen and school district leaders to work collaboratively to properly evaluate the books in the district.

“Bringing everybody together in a room and having those conversations, alleviating any fears, if there are still those fears out there,” Pugliese said. “It is just an important part of the process and starts with that conversation.”

The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said it received the letter and is currently “reviewing the information to determine the best course of action.” However, it doesn’t have a timeline for next steps.

The letter specifically mentions D20 and claims the district has the most obscene books in El Paso County. The district told KRDO13 Investigates it reached out to Allen earlier this month, after a parent’s concerns with school library books, to schedule a meeting about the district's Book Challenge Policy and its library materials.

“The ultimate goal is the same,” Pugliese said. “We want to make sure that our kids have access to books that are appropriate.”

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Quinn Ritzdorf

Quinn is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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