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Porn retailer faces big fines

KITTERY, Maine – Amazing.net lost its last-minute attempt to prevent the town from enforcing an ordinance that changes the way the porn shop does business.

Capital Video Corporation, the parent company of Amazing.net, claims the town’s ordinance violates its constitutional rights and filed a lawsuit against the town. A temporary restraining order also filed would have immediately freed the company from following the new ordinance until the trial.

However, York County Superior Judge Paul Fritzsche ruled in favor of the town Wednesday, and according to Town Attorney Duncan McEachern, the shop is now in violation of the ordinance and could face some hefty fines.

The lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining was filed Friday, just days before a May 29 deadline set by the Town Council after neighbors to the shop on Route 236 complained that patrons were leaving used condoms, sex toys and other trash along the side of the road. Health concerns were also raised when police found traces of semen on the walls and floors of “viewing booths.”

The ordinance requires any adult-video store in town to take down the doors of its private video booths.

“There is no fundamental liberty interest to view sexually explicit materials in a closed viewing booth at a business,” Fritzsche wrote in his ruling Wednesday.

The immediate attempt to prevent the town from enforcing its ordinance failed, but the shop’s fight is not over. It filed a lawsuit against the town that claims the ordinance is in violation of the company’s First Amendment right to privacy. A trial date has not been set.

McEachern said he sees Wednesday’s initial ruling as a good sign, “but it doesn’t finally dispose of the case.”

Town Manager Jon Carter said he does not believe the ordinance interferes with anyone’s rights.

“We’re obviously dismayed at the lawsuit,” he said. “We will determine how to proceed from here under the shadow of a lawsuit. Obviously we want to enforce the ordinance as quickly as possible.”

Each violation of the town’s ordinance is subject to $200 per day in fines.

In a letter sent to Carter in January, Lesley S. Rich, the company’s general counsel, stated that Capital Video Corp. “is very sensitive to the needs of the communities in which we do business.

“It is a strict policy that our employees consistently police the property surrounding (Amazing.net), and we will double our efforts to (ensure) that this is done on a routine basis,” the letter reads.

Rich and the attorney for Capital Video Corporation could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

An employee at the shop said he could not comment on the case.

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