In 1989, Dennis Barrie, the director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, booked "The Perfect Moment," an exhibit of 175 controversial photographs by the late artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Although he anticipated opposition from a select few who may have labeled the photographs as pornographic, Barrie never expected that it would go as far as his indictment and began to feel apprehensive about the negative impact on his family. However, Barrie's firm belief in the individual's right to choose and view art in his own way motiviated him to proceed.
When Simon Leiss, Jr., the Sheriff of Hamilton County, decided that five of the Mapplethorpe photos depicting acts of sado-masochism and homosexuality and two nude portraits of children were obscene, he sought not only to shut down the exhibit, but to prosecute and imprison Dennis Barrie. opening of the exhibit approached, Barrie found himself the target of right-wing conservative groups, who subjected him and his family to a series of personal and professional attacks. On April 7, 1990, the museum opened its doors to a throng of spectators -- some art lovers, and curiousity seekers drawn to the exhibit by its subject matter and controversy. That same afternoon, Cincinnati police arrived with an indictment against Barrie for obscenity and an order to shut down the exhibit.
On September 28, 1990, a jury of eight was chosen and the trial began, which lasted seven days. Barrie ultimately took the stand in his own defense -- a public fight to uphold the integrity of the First Amendment. On October 5, 1990, the jury entered the courtroom with a unanimous decision.