Indiana Porn Stores Still in Business

Porn Studies

The Herald Bulletin, 5/15/08 - In 2005, the Lion’s Den bookstore opened its doors alongside Interstate 65 near Uniontown in Jackson County.

Before opening, the bookstore reportedly never gave indication that it would sell adult material. Pornography opponents stood outside the store round the clock to protest.

Many cities and towns have ordinances to regulate those kinds of retailers.

But in this case, the store was in an unincorporated area that has no zoning restrictions. The case sparked state Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Crothersville, to create a bill regulating the retail sales of adult material. His House Bill 1042 becomes law July 1.

A business intending to sell sexually explicit materials, products or services will have to register and file a statement with the Indiana Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is then supposed to forewarn county officials. The filing fee is $250 and goes into the state’s general fund.

Selling sexually explicit material such as pornography without proper registration could result in a Class B misdemeanor charge. A Class B misdemeanor can result in up to 180 days in jail or up to $1,000 in fines.

“We have to send a message to retailers that there is more than porn in Indiana,” Goodin said during a House hearing on his legislation.

The measure passed the House, 88-12, and the Senate, 44-2.

Goodin believes the law serves as an alert for communities. Protesters get a longer chance to organize.

The Indiana American Civil Liberties Union and the Indianapolis Museum of Art filed a lawsuit challenging the law. The lawsuit should be considered carefully by the courts, mainly because First Amendment rights could be at stake.

The intent of the law, to make officials aware of the coming of businesses that might offend the local sense of decency, is admirable. However, the definition of pornography can be elusive, and the law could open the door for entities such as museums, booksellers and newsstands to come under unwarranted state or local scrutiny.

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Protesters at Porn Stores in Kentucky and Indiana

Louisville Courier-Journal, 9/5/06 - The protesters are posted outside the Lion's Den around the clock, seven days a week. "No Porn in Uniontown," reads one sign, condemning the adult store's selling of sex toys and sexually explicit videos and DVDs. "God is watching you," proclaims another. Since the business opened beside Interstate 65 in Indiana's Jackson County a year ago, the county government and a group of outraged residents have waged an aggressive battle to shut it down.

"We will be here till that is gone," said former steelworker Douglas Hoskins, seated in a lawn chair beside the Lion's Den driveway one evening last week. Joining him was retired farmer Bige Doyle.

Legal experts who track the decades-old war between sexually oriented businesses and local governments that try to keep them out say the battle being waged in Uniontown is becoming increasingly common.

That's because the multibillion-dollar sex industry has branched into the heartland, often along interstates, and is no longer limited to rundown retail districts in major cities.

In the past three years, local governments have waged court battles with such stores in five south-central Kentucky and Southern Indiana communities.

Adult businesses have a constitutionally protected right to operate, despite attempts to shut them down, said Michelle Freridge, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a California-based trade association to the adult-entertainment industry.

Richard Bryant, a Kansas City lawyer who represents adult businesses, said the industry has a history of being attacked by local governments, but the bottom line is that they wouldn't open where they do without a ready market for their products.

"Adult businesses operate like any other business," Bryant said. "They don't go places where they don't make money."

A woman answering the phone at the Uniontown Lion's Den declined to speak for the business and offered to pass a message to a store manager, who did not return the call.

The Lion's Den is the target of a lawsuit pending in Jackson County Superior Court. The city of New Albany, Ind., and Spencer County, about 70 miles west of Louisville, are in similar battles.

Two Kentucky counties south of Elizabethtown also have fought against adult businesses next to I-65.

The Lion's Den near Upton in LaRue County, operated by the same Ohio-based chain that owns the Uniontown store, turned back an attempt by LaRue officials to prohibit truck traffic on the road leading to the business.

About 20 miles south in Hart County, an adult bookstore in a former outlet mall near Horse Cave also remains open despite local efforts to close it.

Although governments can't impose a ban on sexually oriented businesses, U.S. Supreme Court rulings have supported their authority to regulate such businesses by establishing where the stores can operate, said Eric Damian Kelly, a lawyer and professor of urban planning at Ball State University.

Kelly, co-author of a guide for governments to regulate adult businesses, said many communities enact zoning ordinances to prohibit adult businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of churches, schools and homes.

Such restrictions are based on assertions that the businesses cause "adverse secondary effects," such as increased crime and lower property values, he said.

But "a lot of communities don't plan ahead, and they get in trouble," Kelly said, because they lack land-use ordinances or business regulations to withstand a legal challenge.

The adult businesses clearly understand the playing field, said Jackson County (Ind.) Attorney Rodney Farrow.

"They really prey on rural communities that don't have the resources to fight them," Farrow said.

J. Michael Murray and Steven D. Shafron of Cleveland, lawyers for the Uniontown Lion's Den, could not be reached for comment. Stanley Robison, a New Albany lawyer who serves as local counsel for the business, declined to comment.

In Jackson, commissioners learned from a few residents in August 2005 that there was more than a truck stop under construction at Exit 41, as Farrow said local officials were told.

The county had some zoning orders in place, but the commissioners passed an ordinance three days before the Lion's Den opened requiring adult businesses to obtain a permit and adhere to other restrictions.

The store opened without the permit, and the commissioners filed a lawsuit in Jackson County Superior Court accusing the company of violating the ordinance.

At a hearing last September, Murray argued that the ordinance was unconstitutional and that the measure amounted to illegal zoning and a blatant attempt to suppress free speech.

Farrow and others said it could be months before the case is resolved.

In New Albany, an adult store called New Albany DVD took the city to federal court in early 2004 after local officials tried to keep it from opening. The city had cited zoning and business-code violations.

The city lost a first round when U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker ruled that the store had "substantially" complied with city regulations. The city's appeal is pending before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and its legal fees have topped $120,000, according to city records.

Scott Bergthold, a Chattanooga, Tenn., lawyer who works with local governments on adult-business cases, said the lesson for small towns and rural counties is to draft solid, court-tested ordinances before such a store tries to move in.

Bergthold has been hired to assist the legal teams representing Spencer County, New Albany and Hart County. He said adult businesses go where they can make money and operate with few restrictions, so "it really pays to be proactive."

Outside the Lion's Den in Uniontown, Hoskins and Doyle said they believe the courts are not the only way to fight such stores.

The protesters snap pictures of vehicles entering the parking lot and contact companies whose names they see on pickups and semis. They also quote the Bible to people who stop to argue, Hoskins said.

The men believe they've deterred hundreds of would-be customers and hope their efforts force the store to fold.

Pointing over his shoulder at the store, Hoskins said, "I don't want this to happen to anybody else, anywhere else."

Some Don't Want Porn Store in Town

WALB News, 8/13/06 - Some people who live in Unadilla are upset over a new adult entertainment store that just opened. They're speaking out over what they say is a threat to their community and their children.

It's called the Lion's Den. A 24 hour pornography shop specializing in videos, lingerie, and adult novelties. But some people we caught up with today say they never asked for those services.

In this small town with a population of 1700, you'll find lots of friendly people, churches, and now... an adult entertainment shop just off of I-75.

"We don't have anything of this type in this area and we really don't want it here," says Lannie Hamsley.

She's leading a crusade to get the Lion's Den to ship out. She's one of about 40 people who met at the Living Water Baptist church today in opposition.

"I have a 10 year old and we went by there one morning and she said mammy, what is that new store? It's hard to explain to a child what that is but I tried to explain as best I could to a child at that age level and she said how did it get to our home?" says another resident Virginia Bailey.

That's just what some city councilors were wondering. They say when the Lion's Dens' owners applied for a permit, they never specified what kind of business they wanted to open.

"At first we were told it was going to be a Pilot station with a Wendys, then the second time someone said it was going to be office space for DOT, come to find out that wasn't true, then they said it was going to be a church and we know that wasn't true," says City Councilman Dexter Whittaker.

Since then, these people say the store owner's won't talk to them and wouldn't talk at town hall meeting Tuesday. So we went in, not knowing what to expect....

Turns out, they talked to us.

"If they want to come in fine, if not then have a great day basically that's pretty it....We got our license just like any other business. We have a retail license just like anyone else, we applied for them just like anybody else," says Sandi Summers of the Lion's Den.

And they plan to keep it. This month, the store filed for a restraining order and won. U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land ordered the City of Unadilla issue the company a business license and refrain from taking any action to prevent it from operating. But that restraining order expires on the 21st.

Opponents see that as ammunition to spark a city ordinance that will return their small town the way it was... before there ever was a Lion's Den.

"It's not busy, it's not hectic, but we kinda like it that way," Hamsley says.

"I'm concerned about the kind of people it's going to bring into our community and the threat it may be to our children," says Bailey.

The Lion's Den has been open a little over 2 weeks now. Owners say business has been great.

At last Tuesday's town hall meeting, residents got a chance to voice their concerns over the store. But several city leaders were absent from that meeting including 2 city council members, the city administrator, and even the mayor.

Lion's Den Supports ASACP

asacp.org,  8/9/06 - The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is pleased to announce that The Lion’s Den has become its newest Corporate Sponsor.

The Lion's Den provides adult videos, periodicals, novelties, and intimate apparel through The Lion's Den Adult Superstores and over the internet via www.LionsDenAdult.com . The first Lion’s Den retail outlet opened in 1971 in Columbus, Ohio. Today the chain boasts more than 30 locations around the United States.

"The Lion's Den has been in the forefront of the industry for more than 34 years,” said Lion’s Den CEO Michael Moran. “Not just when it comes to integrity and professionalism, but also leading the way in defending our 1st and 4th amendment rights. We’re proud that our community involvement now includes supporting ASACP’s efforts to protect kids from exploitation, and from adult material.”

According to ASACP Executive Director Joan Irvine, Lion’s Den brings more to the table than just financial support. “We’re already talking about publicizing ASACP’s efforts in the Lion’s Den stores, and about how we can work more closely with ‘brick and mortar’ retailers. It’s great to have new sponsors be so enthusiastic about participating, and so willing to contribute actively to what we do.”

Founded in 1996, the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating child pornography from the Internet. ASACP battles child pornography through its CP reporting hotline, and by organizing the efforts of the online adult industry to combat the heinous crime of child sexual abuse.

Companies and individuals interested in supporting ASACP may go to www.asacp.org for more information on how to get involved.

See also ...
Group Protests Construction of Porn Store

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