In January of 1912, Otto Krueger breathed the fresh air of freedom for the first time in eleven months. He had been sent to prison, for a crime he did not commit, by Anthony Comstock. And he was pardoned by the President of the United States, William Howard Taft.
Krueger’s nightmare began on the streets of New York in December of 1910. He was on his way to work when a young woman on the sidewalk asked if his name was Ed, and if he had written her a letter. Krueger first said “no” to both questions, but was enjoying the chat and said, in jest, that he was indeed Ed. The young lady suggested a place to meet later, but Krueger did not go. Two weeks later, he was arrested in his home by Anthony Comstock, taken to jail, and after a trial in which the only witnesses were Anthony Comstock and the young woman, he was sentenced to 18 months in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. Only when the gavel came down did he realize this was not a misunderstanding.
In response to a “position wanted” ad the young woman had placed in the newspaper, one “Ed” had sent an improper letter through the mail to her and suggested they meet. She showed the letter to Anthony Comstock, and he suggested she place another ad giving a time and place for the meeting. “Ed” did not show up, but Otto Krueger stumbled into the trap. Comstock said Krueger’s handwriting was identical to that on the letter. Experts at the Department of Justice later said the samples were “essentially different,” and that Krueger had been railroaded. Hence the pardon.
At home, Krueger wept in the arms of his wife, son and sister, and said that as much as he wanted to leave the past behind, he could not forget.
Comstock, for his part, said that the President and the Department of Justice had been “imposed upon” and promised a statement which, in his opinion, would justify all his acts in connection with Krueger’s arrest and conviction.