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Alabama Adult Video Stores Face Charges

Mobile, Ala- Baldwin County authorities are using a state zoning statute in an attempt to shut down four video stores by charging the owners with selling sexually explicit material close to areas frequented by children, District Attorney David Whetstone said Thursday.

Whetstone said summonses have been issued for the owners of ShowTime Video and Front Row Video in Lillian; Wilcox Video in the Wilcox community in east-central Baldwin County; and Highway 59 Video in Loxley. The summonses charge the owners with violating a state zoning law that bans adult bookstores, video stores or movie theaters within 1,000 feet of any location, including parks, churches, schools and homes, where children might gather.

Whetstone said the summonses order the owners to appear in court to respond to state claims that they violated the law, but that arrest warrants have not been issued for any individuals.

“This is a zoning statute designed to keep this type of business away from certain areas of the community frequented by children,” Whetstone said. The district attorney said the businesses were within 1,000 feet of facilities such as parks, homes and churches, defined in the law as locations where children congregate.

He said county officials have been receiving complaints from residents living near the businesses for more than a year in some cases.

Two undercover investigators bought videos believed to be pornographic in each of the stores and then used county computer maps to determine if they were within the areas prohibited under the law, he said.

Whetstone said the videos will also be presented to the Baldwin County grand jury to determine if the material violates state anti-pornography laws.

He said he will also file civil lawsuits against the stores asking that the businesses be shut down for being in violation of the state zoning prohibitions.

A person convicted of violating the zoning law could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000 and to serve up to a year in jail, according to the statute.

A woman who identified herself only as Susan, who said she was the manager of Wilcox Video, said that the store was still operating at the Wilcox exit on Interstate 10.

“I have not gotten a subpoena, sir, that’s about all I can tell you,” she said. Asked if anyone had received any other court documents, she repeated her statement that she had not been served with a subpoena.

Whetstone said the summonses were issued for the business owners — five in Alabama and three in Florida — but that names of the owners could not be released because officials could not confirm that all the papers had been served.

The district attorney said the cases are scheduled to be tried in April in Baldwin County District Court.


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