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Owner agrees to close video stores

Mobile, Ala- The owner of two adult video stores that the city of Mobile was attempting to shut down has agreed to close her stores and not apply for another business license for four months.

In the meantime, the signs for I-10 Video and Express Video, both in the Tillman’s Corner area and owned by Patricia A. Daniel, will come down. The signed agreement was announced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, where a hearing on the revocation of the business licenses for the two video stores was set to take place.

The hearing was scheduled following Mobile Police Department accusations that the businesses were harboring sexual activity.

The fate of the two Tillman’s Corner-area stores remained in limbo, though, as some council members questioned the four-month timeframe agreed to earlier in the morning by Wanda Cochran, an attorney representing the city.

“I’m not going to accept four months,” said Councilman Clinton Johnson, who called it a slap on the wrist.

At one point Tuesday, Council President Reggie Copeland called for the hearing, opening the possibility that the council might take action contradicting the agreement.

Jeff Deen, an attorney representing the two stores, objected and cited the agreement.

The impasse was resolved when Cochran suggested requiring Daniel to have any future business licenses approved by the council.

Council attorney Jim Rossler said Daniel agreed to surrender the current licenses, so he was not sure what further action could be taken. He called Cochran’s agreement “very beneficial” and said Daniel simply could have surrendered her business licenses before the council hearing, negating the need for the hearing, then reapplied for a new license the next day.

Councilwoman Connie Hudson called for a review of the process.

Cochran, after the meeting, said the Police Department agreed to the settlement.

If a hearing were held, the council could have determined that the businesses were operating properly or, if not, suspended the licenses or revoked them for up to 12 months.

According to a city report, the stores did not have the special license required for sexually oriented businesses. State law prohibits those types of businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of a residence, and both of Daniel’s businesses violate that standard.

The Police Department conducted an undercover investigation between October and April after receiving complaints about the two stores, according to another report given to council members.

As part of the investigation, arrest warrants were issued for 31 people, charging them with loitering for the purpose of deviate sexual intercourse, according to the city.

In addition to selling adult materials, the businesses charged $8 per customer for unlimited viewing of adult videos in closet-size booths. At both stores, some customers were observed sharing booths, according to the report. Used condoms were found in the booths, and “patrons were observed having deviate sexual intercourse … inside the booths with the doors open,” according to the report.

Each location has a retail sales area, and men routinely “cruise” that area looking for people interested in having sex, the document states. At I-10 Video, cruising also took place in the parking lot, the report states.

The city report also states that both businesses have a bulletin board where people post index cards “describing the type of partner anor sexual contact desired.” Other customers can pay $2 to obtain the name and telephone number of the person who posted the card.

Deen said the stores were operating properly but the city wanted to shut them down because of the merchandise.

He said Daniel wants to “retool the businesses into something else” after the four-month period. Deen said they might open them as video stores with adult sections.

Cochran said an audit is under way on the video stores’ financial operations.

Both businesses are outside Mobile’s city limits but inside its 3-mile-wide police jurisdiction. Businesses there must obtain a city business license.



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