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July 26, 2000 06:10am
Company's Folder Sends Children to Sex Talk Line
Source: Daily Herald

(CHICAGO, IL) -- Mead, the Ohio-based school supply and paper giant, apologized Tuesday after learning a discontinued set of its school supplies featuring the Sailor Moon cartoon has a fan club phone number that now directs callers to an off-shore phone sex line.

The 13-year-old daughter of a Schaumburg police sergeant stumbled upon the line, which is based on the Caribbean island of Grenada, after calling the toll-free number on her school folder that offered "your Sailor Moon Official Fan Club Kit!"

But instead of giving information about the popular Japanese cartoon, the fan club number offers a recorded voice directing callers to a phone-sex line where a woman's sultry voice promises "uncensored erotic adventures."

"She was upstairs making a phone call," said Sue Rizzo, whose husband, Paul, is the media contact for Schaumburg police. "And all of the sudden I heard her scream: 'Mommy!'"

"I thought the Internet was dangerous. She was just dialing a phone number," said Sue Rizzo, who called Mead last week to notify them of the phone number.

Mead corporate spokesperson Amber Garwood said Sue Rizzo's call was the first the company has received about the Sailor Moon number. She said the product was discontinued in 1996 and the fan club number, which was supplied by the California licenser of Sailor Moon, was reassigned to another company in 1999.

"We're very upset with the situation and we apologize for the stress that we've caused the families because we really value our relationship with them," Garwood said.

In the two years the Sailor Moon products were made by Mead, some 226,000 folders, notebooks and binders were produced. Garwood said the fan club number was listed only on full-sized spiral notebooks and folders - the latter of which was purchased by the Rizzos last summer. Sue Rizzo said it took her daughter nearly a year to call the fan club number.

Garwood said even though the product line was discontinued, it is possible that some of the supplies still are being sold.

"We believe there's very little product left in the marketplace," she said.

Garwood did not blame the Sailor Moon licenser, Dic Entertainment, for not telling Mead about giving up the fan club phone number.

"They had no reason to notify us of the change because the product was no longer being produced," she said, noting that Mead will attempt to get any of its remaining Sailor Moon products off shelves if it hears of locations still selling them.

Gary Spiegel, in-house counsel for Dic Entertainment, said Dic discontinued the fan club line in 1996. The company has no affiliation anymore with that phone number, nor has it ever been affiliated with the Grenada number, he said.

"I want to know how on Earth did that recording get on that line and how these products are still in the marketplace" after being discontinued in 1996, he asked. "I have as many questions as you ... I was shocked to hear about this."

Spiegel said Sailor Moon, like other cartoons, has been victimized by "unscrupulous" groups who pirate the images for pornography, but added he had no knowledge that the Grenada line has anything to do with Sailor Moon. He also wondered why the number would be given to a sex-related service considering its prior use.

The whole mess has the Rizzos, who have repeatedly warned their daughter about being careful on the Internet, shaking their heads.

"I don't think it caused her any trauma. She didn't hear that much," Paul Rizzo said. "(But) it's baffling to me how this happened."

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