(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)
Insisting he is a merely "solid citizen" with an unusual hobby, the man known as "Master Troy" tried patiently to explain it all Monday morning as a courtroom listened with rapt attention.
It wasn't a question of crime, he said. It was a question of lifestyle.
All of it. The bondage and discipline sessions at his Thonotosassa "dungeon," the consenting adult "swingers," the videos that visitors could get as a sort of souvenir.
"We have our own code of conduct to help keep things safe, legal. . ." said 50-year-old Terry Lynn Thomas, who writes for magazines on related subjects and sometimes refers to himself as the Kinky Dr. Ruth. "It is not sex for money."
Thomas previously pleaded guilty "in my best interest," to charges including distribution of obscene material, operating a place for lewdness, assignation or prostitution, and possession of child pornography. As part of a plea agreement, the state agreed to drop a felony racketeering charge.
Monday, Circuit Judge Debra Behnke sentenced the 50-year-old former mechanic to three years of probation.
"I didn't charge (him with) a lifestyle," said prosecutor Paul Duval Johnson. "We don't have any legal objection to how he chooses to live his life."
Thomas made news in 1995, when detectives spent two months posing as voyeuristic clients and then raided Thomas' Thonotosassa home. There, officials said, clients paid by the hour to use a room filled with contraptions that included a sexual torture device called "St. Andrew's Cross."
Detectives confiscated videotapes, including a home movie of one of Thomas' co-defendants involved in beastiality with a Labrador named Blackie and others of Traci Lords, a pornographic star who was 15 or 16 when she made the films.
Thomas' attorney, Michael Giordano, told the judge that Thomas tried to set up his business to be "above board and legal" and later passed a polygraph test in which he denied being involved in "kiddie porn."
"This is a gentleman who had a private video collection, some of which were no-nos," Giordano said.
Joan Hutkin, who called herself "Floor Slave Joan," and Jena Zellar, who went by the name "Mistress Shannon," still face a trial on related charges May 19.