A year and a half after I moved to St. Louis a huge scandal broke — 20 years ago today:
The chief state prosecutor for the city of St. Louis, who has spent most of his 15 years in office crusading against obscenity, pornography and prostitution, was charged today with a misdemeanor offense of patronizing a prostitute.
Since being elected as circuit attorney in 1976, Mr. Peach has led a fight to rid St. Louis of pornography and prostitution. In the 1980’s he was responsible for closing the city’s major pornographic book and video stores. Last June, he endorsed changes in city ordinances that would make jail mandatory for prostitutes, pimps and customers who are second-time offenders. (New York Times)
Peach was busted three days earlier, on Tuesday March 10, 1992,Â in a hotel in St. Louis County. In the days immediately following his arrest on the misdemeanor charge local officials were debating if he should resign or run for a 5th term as prosecutor.
A January 2004 story in the Post-Dispatch recounts many the sorted details including more criminal activity:
In an eight-month Post-Dispatch investigation in 1992, reporters disclosedÂ that Peach financed his extracurricular activities with cash from aÂ confidential city checking account he controlled. He also took money from aÂ fund set up to aid crime victims.Â (Full story — highly recommended)
A number of years ago an independent hollywood company began raising money to produce a film about Peach’s downfall, myself and many others donated money to help get the film made:
Heart of the Beholder is a 2005 drama film that was written and directed by Ken Tipton. It is based on Tipton’s own experience as the owner of a chain of videocassette rental stores in the 1980s. Tipton and his family had opened the first videocassette rental stores in St. Louis in 1980. Their business was largely destroyed by a campaign of the National Federation for Decency, who objected to the chain’s carrying the film The Last Temptation of Christ for rental.
The film won “Best Feature Film” awards at several film festivals. Critic Ryan Cracknell summarized the film, “There’s no shortage of material for writer-director Ken Tipton to work with here. That alone makes Heart of the Beholder a film of interest. It is in many ways a politically charged film as it touches on issues of freedom of speech, religious beliefs and all out fanaticism. Still, I didn’t think it was charged with enough balance and I think a large part had to do with the film’s inconsistent pacing.” (Wikipedia)
As one of thousands of uncredited producers I got the film on DVD, but here’s the trailer:
I recall a video store on the south side of Olive between Compton & Grand, now part of Saint Louis University’s campus, that closed in the early 90s. I only visited the store once, not sure if it was one of Ken Tipton’s Video Library stores or not.
– Steve Patterson