The deputies hustled the red-haired man out of his white clapboard house, past a pair of bicycles leaning against the porch, across a bare yard and straight into a constitutional firestorm.
The video, replayed endlessly on the news channels, showed the author of a how-to guide for pedophiles being arrested Monday at his Pueblo, Colo., home on a warrant out of Polk County.
The charge lodged against Phillip Ray Greaves II: distribution of obscene material.
It's a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.
Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said his officers were able to arrest the Colorado resident on Florida charges because an undercover deputy had persuaded Greaves to sell him a copy of his book, The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct, through the mail.
"Obviously the author is going to yell and scream about free speech," predicted Stetson University College of Law constitutional expert Bill Kaplin. "This is a classic First Amendment issue."
Greaves' book generated international headlines last month when the online retailer Amazon pulled it from its distribution network amid concerns about its content. Until Nov. 11, the self-published e-book was available for download there for $4.79.
On Nov. 29, a Polk deputy using a fake name mailed a letter to Greaves, asking for an autographed copy of his book, according to the arrest affidavit, which was signed by a judge Dec. 15. Greaves e-mailed back that he couldn't print out any new copies at the moment, "so I am sending you my own personal copy," the unnamed detective wrote in the affidavit. The price: $50.
The package arrived Dec. 8. In the flyleaf, the author had written, "For all your encouragement. Phillip R. Greaves 2nd."
"He very proudly sold us his personal copy," Judd told the Associated Press. "I was outraged by the content. It was clearly a manifesto on how to sexually batter children. … You just can't believe how absolutely disgusting it was."
Greaves, 47, was not charged with distribution of child pornography because there were no pictures of children being molested, explained sheriff's spokesman Scott Wilder. However, the book includes first-person descriptions of sexual encounters, purportedly written from a child's point of view.
In the book, Greaves contends it is only a crime to act on sexual impulses toward children, and offers advice that purportedly allows pedophiles to abide by the law.
The author, a retired nurse with no criminal record, told Fox News last month that his book does not promote pedophilia, although it's "something that I have sympathy for because of my own childhood." He told CNN at the time that he has not had sexual contact with a child as an adult, but he did when he was a teenager. He said an adult female introduced him to oral sex when he was 7.
Greaves chose late Monday not to fight extradition. In a brief court appearance in Colorado, the author told a judge he would go face the charge in Florida.
That suited Judd, who had said his goal was "for him to eat processed turkey on Christmas Day in the Polk County Jail."
If Greaves' case goes to trial, then legal experts questioned what would prevent booksellers from facing prosecution for selling Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, a novel in which the narrator is a pedophile who has sex with his 12-year-old stepdaughter.
"As bad as this book may be, the charge opens a very big Pandora's box," said Dennis J. Kenney, a former police officer in Polk County and a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. "The charge sounds to me like a significant overreach."
But Sheriff Judd — whose father says that as a boy the future lawman went around humming the Dragnet theme — isn't worried he's overstepped his authority.
After all, four years ago Judd's officers busted the deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security on child solicitation charges — a case that landed the plainspoken Judd a spot on the Today show and interviews with so many network anchors he nearly lost his voice.
Judd said he felt frustrated that no other law enforcement agency had arrested Greaves for something he saw as clearly illegal.
"What's wrong with a society that has gotten to the point that we can't arrest child pornographers and child molesters who write a book about how to rape a child?" Judd said Monday. "If we can get jurisdiction … we're coming after you. There's nothing in the world more important than our children."
Still, proving an obscenity charge can be tricky, Kaplin, the Stetson expert, pointed out. A Polk County jury will have to find that the book violates community standards, portrays sexual conduct in an offensive manner, lacks any redeeming qualities and appeals to a prurient interest in sex — "and no one really knows what that means," he said.
But it's not impossible.
In March 1994, a Pinellas County jury took just 90 minutes to convict cartoonist Michael Diana of publishing obscenity in a comic book called Boiled Angel that included drawings of child molestation.
Diana spent three days behind bars, the first cartoonist in U.S. history to be jailed on an obscenity charge, and his conviction was upheld on appeal.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story, which contains information from the Associated Press, CNN and Fox News.