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Detectives investigate sex dungeon videos

Published Oct. 4, 2005

Hillsborough sheriff's detectives began Friday to sift through bags of pornographic videotapes and scan appointment ledgers to bolster their case against an alleged sexual fantasy fulfillment business shut down Thursday in Thonotosassa.

Meanwhile, a dog they say was used in the business appeared headed for a more wholesome lifestyle.

During a two-month investigation of the wood-shingled home at 10010 Harney Road, detectives said they found evidence that residents were illegally distributing pornographic videotapes, including some that featured children and animals.

Deputies arrested Terry Lynn "Master Troy" Thomas, 48, and self-described "live-in floor slave" Joan L. Hutkin, 34, on prostitution, racketeering and animal cruelty charges Thursday.

Jena Zellar, "Mistress Shannon" to co-workers and customers, and Sheila A. Mathis, 42, were arrested on charges of offering to commit prostitution. Only Hutkin remained jailed Friday, with bail set at $55,000.

None of the suspects have prior criminal records, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter.

The search warrant served at the house Thursday listed almost 100 commercial and homemade videotapes for seizure, some previously ruled obscene by a judge and others considered so because they depict people involved in sexual acts with animals, Capt. James Tagliarini said.

Any child pornography is illegal and need not be classified as obscene, according to Assistant State Attorney Paul Johnson.

Though some of the acts caught on videotape are not themselves illegal, such as those featuring male customers dressed up to be employees' girlfriends, authorities said the obscene nature of some tapes and their distribution for profit made the goings-on at the Harney Road house criminal, not just kinky.

Thomas illegally operated the pornographic video "club" _ called Knott Fancy Videos _ without an adult use license, charging members a one-time joining fee of $50 and $10 for each rental, deputies said. He also rented his "sex dungeon" for up to $150 per two-hour session, allowing customers to act out their fantasies with sex tools and equipment he provided.

Some of Thomas' clients may have been unknowing actors in the videotapes he later rented to club members, Tagliarini said. He could not estimate the length of the client list, but said that several 100-page notebooks filled with entries were found in the home. Investigators will compile a list of clients from the notebooks and computer records. They plan to contact some of them soon.

Meanwhile, in a blue-tiled cell in the investigation kennel at the Hillsborough County Animal Services Center, the brown-eyed Labrador mix taken from Thomas' home Thursday was predictably oblivious to the titillating questions the raid produced and the flood of concern for his welfare that followed.

Animal Services received between 50 and 100 phone calls before 11:30 a.m. Friday, most from people offering to adopt Blackie, said Donna Olmstead, Animal Services spokeswoman.

Many were prompted to call by a "Save Blackie" campaign launched during the morning news on radio station WFLA-AM 970.

"We were encouraging people to . . . put in applications to adopt Blackie," said Sue Treccase, assistant operations manager. "We wanted (Animal Services) to know that people realized he was a victim."

Tagliarini said Friday that there was no evidence the suspects performed sexual intercourse with Blackie. A videotape viewed by detectives depicted the dog engaged in a sexual act, and there was evidence of other abuse, officials said.

Blackie awaits routine, pre-adoption medical exams, including one for heartworm. He most likely will be a candidate for the Stormy Weather Friends program, Olmstead said, which places old, sick or abused animals in suitable homes. Adopting Blackie could cost between $15 and $75, depending on the cost of neutering him outside the center.

Olmstead said she had not noticed any signs that Blackie, whom she thinks is between 15 and 18 months old, was suffering from his experiences in the sex dungeon.

"He's totally non-aggressive. . . . I wouldn't think anything was wrong if I hadn't been told about the abuse," Olmstead said.

Though Blackie's wagging tail and upbeat manner suggest otherwise, a local veterinarian said there is potential for problems with a dog with Blackie's background.

"I think for a dog who has been through that sort of thing, the dog may want to continue that sort of behavior," said Dr. Theresa Merckle of Professional Veterinarian Hospitals of Tampa.