AbbyWinters' Garion Hall Criminally Charged Following June Raid

MELBOURNE—Garion Hall, the founder of the largely softcore Australian website, has been criminally charged six months after his business, G Media, was raided by police.

The Herald Sun is reporting that Hall was charged Monday with child pornography offenses and 54 counts of making objectionable films for gain and possessing a commercial quantity of objectionable films. "Objectionable films" are categorized according to a rather strict ratings system that criminalizes adult content that is legal to possess in the Unites States. 

The Herald Sun itself has played a pivotal role in the police campaign against AbbyWinters, including instigating the June 15 raid by providing police "with a dossier of information about the allegedly illegal porn G Media, and companies associated with it, have churned out in Melbourne since about 2000."

At the time, there were conflicting reports about what exactly happened during the raid. The Herald Sun said detectives from Victoria province hit five different premises as part of an action called "Operation Refuge," including G Media in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy and director Garion Hall's home in Heidelberg, where he was arrested. The paper reported that the police took computers and records from the business premises.

"Two storage facilities and another office were also part of the raids," AVN reported. "Police seized computers containing footage of women allegedly performing explicit sex acts—illegal to produce and profit from in Victoria, Australia."

The following day, however, Hall issued a statement saying he would be exonerated of all charges, that no hardware had been seized, and that the police had been supplied with copies of all information they had requested and were "polite and amiable" during the raid. He also claimed that the raid was instigated by a "tabloid journalist from the Herald Sun," presumably Keith Moor, "who has written about in the past, trying to encourage authorities to act."

Hall was not charged at the time. In the Herald Sun article Tuesday—also written by Keith Moor—the claim is repeated that "computer records and DVDs allegedly containing material too graphic to be legally made in Victoria were among items seized," but there is no information made of the basis for the child pornography charges, which could number as many as three. Moor does not state exactly how many child pornography offenses Hall faces.

The vagueness is odd, considering the specificity of the accusation made in June. "Police have seen a copy of a driver's license of one G Media nude model, allegedly showing she was 17 when photographed. It is not known if Mr. Hall knew of her age," Moor wrote at the time.

AbbyWinters' films are distributed in the U.S. by Wicked Pictures. At the time of the raid, Wicked owner Steve Orenstein told AVN that AbbyWinters content has always been compliant with U.S. 2257 regulations that requires documentation be kept and shown to authorities proving that models are over the age of 18.

The "objectionable films" charges are less serious, of course, but carry a potential jail term of two years nonetheless. An "objectionable film" in Australia is one that:

    * describes, depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in a manner that is likely to cause offense to a reasonable adult; or

    * promotes, incites or instructs in matters of crime or violence; or is classified RC or X 18+ or would, if classified, be classified RC, or would be refused approval, as the case requires.

Hall is due to appear in Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Jan. 27.