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Naughty But Nice Owner Charged

Lawrence, Kansas- Regulatory rubber bands are snapping back against a Lawrence man who has been fighting to keep his sex shop from being forced out of business by City Hall.

Richard Osburn, owner of Naughty But Nice, received formal notification Monday that he was being charged with operating a sex shop without a proper license and in an illegal location.

Each of the two criminal charges carries a potential penalty of up to a $500 fine and up to six months in jail for each day the store is in operation since Oct. 1.

For his part, Osburn doesn’t intend to close his shop anytime soon – at least not until Nov. 15, when he faces arraignment in Lawrence Municipal Court and hears what Judge Randy McGrath has to say about the appropriateness of his business, which sells adult magazines and DVDs, a variety of sex toys and other merchandise.

Closing is not an option unless an authority other than a city inspector orders him to.

“I can’t eat this merchandise, and I can’t pay my mortgage with it,” Osburn said. “If the judge tells me to close the door, I’ll close the door. And I’ll move on to plan B.”

Osburn has been on a collision course with city authorities for more than six years. That’s when Lawrence city commissioners passed a law that outlaws sex shops in town, unless such shops are properly licensed and situated along a state highway.

Osburn had opened his shop at 1741 Mass. – inside a building that is not on a state highway – the previous year. His operation, by law, was not subject to the new restrictions for at least five years.

In recent months, city inspectors have stepped up inspections to prepare their case. In response, Osburn started stocking ball-point pens, used library books and individually packaged rubber bands and paper clips – he prefers to call them office supplies – in an attempt to qualify his business as a normal retail store instead of a sex shop.

Jerry Little, city prosecutor, said that recent inspections confirmed that at least 5 percent of Naughty But Nice’s on-floor inventory consisted of sexually oriented toys or novelties.

“You can’t operate or own an unlicensed sex shop,” Little said. “He doesn’t have a license, and he can’t get a license because of his location. … Obviously, what we’re trying to accomplish is to get him out of there.”

Osburn plans to defend himself in court and says he’ll argue that the city practices “selective enforcement” by sending different personnel for each inspection.

He still maintains that his shop was legal at the time it was established and should be allowed to remain. He also acknowledges that his landlord needs to seek another tenant because it’s unlikely that Naughty But Nice will be able to stay open for long.

Osburn says he already has been rejected by landlords for five other potential locations during the past three weeks but maintains that he has other options.

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