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Despite Indictment, Hollywood at Home says it always follows the law

Missouri- An attorney for an Overland Park business indicted on charges of promoting obscenity said Wednesday that his client has been operating more than 20 years and has always complied with the law.

In fact, owners of Hollywood at Home cooperated with a 1989 grand jury in drawing up community standards defining obscenity, said Richard Bryant, who is representing the video rental store at 9063 Metcalf Ave.

“We are going to defend this as vigorously as we can,” Bryant said.

The business was one of three indicted late Tuesday by a Johnson County grand jury. Also indicted for promoting obscenity were a Priscilla’s at 1848 E. Santa Fe St. in Olathe and Spirit Halloween, owned by the Spencer Corp., at 6824 W. 119th St. in Overland Park.

District Judge Kevin Moriarty has ordered the three defendants to appear in court Oct. 10 to hear the charges against them. All of the charges are misdemeanors.

The grand jury convened July 15 after a citizens group presented a petition calling for a grand jury to look into businesses that might be promoting obscenity. The grand jury has issued more than a dozen indictments since then but the ones issued Tuesday were the first to address obscenity.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with how things are progressing,” said Phillip Cosby, leader of the local chapter of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, which pushed for the grand jury investigations.

“Awareness is our goal. And people are having the conversation. … It’s like law enforcement is almost breathing a sigh of relief that finally, the cavalry is coming and they don’t have to do this alone.”

An attorney for Priscilla’s said the business would contest the charges. Kevin Mahoney, an attorney for the New Jersey-based Spencer Corp., said he could not comment until he sees the indictment.

Priscilla’s is accused of selling five sex toys and a video, all of which are alleged to be obscene. Spirit Halloween is accused of selling four Halloween costumes alleged to be obscene. And Hollywood at Home is accused of selling four videos alleged to be obscene.

Brian Burgess, a spokesman for District Attorney Phill Kline, said he could not comment on how the grand jury went about its investigation. For the most part, grand jury proceedings are secret.

Bryant, the Hollywood at Home attorney, said the grand jury that convened in 1989 to investigate obscenity did investigate the business then. However, he said, that grand jury called in representatives of the store to learn about their operations. That grand jury issued standards for what should be considered obscene; it did not issue any indictments.

The current grand jury did not speak with anyone from the store, he said.

Bryant said he had “no clue” why the four DVD videos named in the indictment were singled out.

“All I can tell you is the distributors of those videos have all indicated that they have not been subject of investigation in any state or any city in the country,” he said.

Cosby’s group has been successful in seating grand juries in several counties in Kansas. A Wyandotte County grand jury recently indicted businesses there for promoting obscenity.

Under state law, a grand jury is seated for 90 days unless the judge overseeing it grants an extension. Moriarty, who is overseeing the grand jury in Johnson County, said he does not plan to extend its service.

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