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Local Spencer’s stores in Tacoma, Washington found selling sex toys, porn to children; But It’s Legal

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Washington – from www.komonews.com – An investigation has turned up a shocking discovery at many of our local malls. We found that a popular store in malls all over Western Washington is selling adult sex toys and pornography not just to adults, but also to kids.

Inside any Spencer’s store is an eye-shrieking onslaught of tasteless gag trash and holiday party items.But beyond the drinking games, the finger lights, and other drug-inspired paraphernalia, the Problem Solvers’ hidden cameras found an even seedier side of Spencer’s. Next to the genital-shaped cake pans and toys, you’ll also find a wide array of vibrators, handcuffs and whips, and graphic sex manuals.

And it’s a teen magnet.

“It’s like the cool hangout place,” said a 13-year-old Pierce County girl KOMO News has arbitrarily chosen to call “Lindsay.”

Lindsay says for a joke, she and a friend bought a sex aid at the Tacoma Mall’s Spencer’s.

“Yeah, I was really nervous,” she said, adding the clerk never questioned her, never asked how old she was. Again, she’s only 13.

But when Lindsay’s mother, Angela Mendoza, found out, she, in her own words, “almost had a heart attack.” Mendoza’s last name is not the same as her daughter’s.

Malls are popular teen and pre-teen hangouts.

“I thought she was safe,” Mendoza said.

But Mendoza found that in addition to the Smurf backpacks and SpongeBob cartoon hats in the front of all Spencer’s, there’s also the blow up sex dolls and candy nipple tassels.

“They have sex toys in there. They have nude photos. They have sex games, stimulants,” she said. And no apparent age limit. “And I’m just appalled that they would sell these things to minors.”

So with her mother’s approval, the Problem Solvers went undercover with Lindsay to see if other Spencer’s would sell sex items to kids. Our hidden cameras videotaped a clerk ringing up a graphic sex manual for Lindsay at a Puyallup Spencer’s. In Tukwila, again, no one questioned her purchase of adult erotica.

Just one of the items our 13-year-old bought at Spencer’s is full of photos of men and women having sex. It’s so graphic we couldn’t show you a single page with the exception of the index.

“I’m angry, I’m really angry,” said Mendoza.

All three stores we checked, in three different malls, were all willing to sell sex toys and pornography to kids.

“You know, you’re basically telling these kids that it’s OK to go out and have sex and you’re promoting it,” said Mendoza, “and that’s not right.”

Mendoza isn’t alone. A mall shop owner who didn’t want to be identified was appalled when she discovered by chance what Spencer’s sells in the mall where her shop is located.

“I was very shocked… and offended,” the shop owner said.

“Right now, there’s no law in the books that prohibits the selling of hardcore pornography to minors,” said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

In 1994, the state Supreme Court struck down Washington’s only law preventing the sale of erotic materials to minors; it was too broad.

Lindquist says lawmakers need to write a new law for minors distinguishing between art and hard core porn. But he adds there’s also a simpler solution: “I would think that a business would have the common sense to regulate something like this even without a law.”

We asked the Tacoma Spencer’s about its policy of selling adult sex toys and pornography to kids. But the manager would only direct me to their New Jersey-based corporate spokesman Kevin Mahoney.

Mahoney said Spencer’s displays the erotica responsibly and posts a warning that there is adult merchandise present. We did find a small warning sign. It was partially hidden behind edible underwear.

Mendoza’s thoughts: “Parents need to find out about this,” she said.

Spencer’s Mahoney also said the company restricts sales of adult merchandise to those over the age of 18. But he had no answer to our findings of three sales to a 13-year-old at three different mall stores.

But our Problem Solver investigation is already getting results. After we contacted the Tacoma Mall, mall officials looked into it and are now demanding that Spencer’s immediately remove “the offending items.” Spokeswoman Sarah Bonds added, “We strive to create a family-friendly environment for our shoppers and this incident is clearly contrary to what we want to achieve.”

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