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Owners of Pleasureland Plead Guilty

Indiana- Despite uncertain economic times a deal was struck Tuesday, that will prevent two businesses in St. Joseph County from expanding. In this case, both businesses are adult bookstores in South Bend and Mishawaka.

Prosecutors filed criminal charges against both stores nearly three years ago for selling obscene materials. The move made headlines with 19-counts filed against each store including racketeering and possible seizure of assets.

“Less than a slap on the wrist” is how one person described the punishment doled out Tuesday in the obscenity case. The owners of both stores pleaded guilty.

In the beginning the 19-charges filed against each adult bookstore threatened to close the establishments. They included racketeering and the possibility that assets might be seized by law enforcement.

In the end, the owner of the Pleasureland Museum came to court Tuesday and was fined $1,000.

“The strong message was sent there’s illegal materials being pandered by the adult businesses. The mixed message sent is the judge does not see that as a serious offense,” says Deputy Prosecutor Ken Cotter.

On the other hand, in the plea agreement, both bookstores agreed not to sell magazines or movies that deal with a host of subjects including bondage, torture, and incest. Both businesses agreed not to expand their business activities in St. Joseph County.

In the meantime, the citizens group that pushed for the case didn’t get what it wanted: a chance for ordinary people sitting on juries to review the kind of materials sold in the stores and decide for themselves what is and isn’t obscene.

“What we really need to have in St. Joe County are standards established not uniformly by a judge in a corner, or by prosecutor, but by citizens through the process set up in the Supreme Court,” says Patrick Mangan of Citizens for Community Values.

Third store found not obscene
Charges were also filed against a third bookstore Little Denmark. That case did make it to trial. That jury decided the materials being sold by Little Denmark, were not obscene.

The strict enforcement of obscenity laws in places like Cincinnati have actually forced some adult businesses out of business. Some were hoping for the same thing here.



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