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Residents Want X-tra Adult Superstore Out

RAYNHAM, Massachusetts – Ruth Nelligan is among several town residents who say they would like to see the Video X-tra Adult Superstore on Route 44 leave Raynham.

The business – the town’s only adult video store featuring closet-sized video “preview viewing” rooms – has become an indoor meeting spot for men seeking sex with other men, a Sunday Enterprise investigation has shown.

“I don’t want Raynham to be known as the place to come to if you want certain sexual favors for nothing in an enclosed business,” Nelligan, 58, said. “I don’t know how it could be legal, but apparently it is.”

“I think it’s disgusting and I think it should be closed down,” said Diane Danahy, 50.

While some may question the propriety of the activity, police say it isn’t illegal. And town officials said there is not much that can be done about it.

The business, which opened about six years ago after a legal battle with the town, is legally located in one of two areas the town zoned for adult entertainment.

“Back in the days when we could say, ‘Oh, you want to come in? Well, you’re not welcome.’ Those days are gone, so we do the best we can,” said selectmen Chairman Donald McKinnon.

Police Chief Louis J. Pacheco said his department has been aware of what was going on at the business, but there’s no criminal action that can be taken based on the information gathered so far.

Pacheco said what men are doing behind closed doors does not fall under criminal activity.

He said if any sexual activity was being done in public, in the open or money was being exchanged between the participants, then criminal charges could be pressed.

There is no evidence that any of that is going on, he said.

“What two men do in a locked room is not up for the police to decide. It’s difficult,” Pacheco said. “We’re not the bedroom police. Should I go into all the hotel rooms and see what’s going on in there?”

Larry Ravech of Stoughton, one of the store owners, said he was not aware of any sexual activity in the viewing booth area.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” he said.

An Enterprise reporter went into the store three times last week and was propositioned several times, including by one customer who bluntly asked – using slang terms – if he wanted oral sex.

A used condom was observed on the floor of one booth at the business.

Several residents on Sunday said they didn’t want the store and the anonymous sexual activity it attracts in town.

“I’m really disgusted. It just makes the town more seedy than it is,” said Mark Danahy, 51. “I would never like to see that type of establishment anywhere, but definitely not this town. It makes me nauseous to think about it.”

“Wow,” said Bob Rodier. “I did not know that was going on down here. I certainly do disapprove of it.”

Experts say indoor meeting places, such as the Raynham video store, are the latest sex trend as police try to push sexual activity out of highway rest areas and other public areas.

But with anonymous sexual activity comes increased health and safety risks, including the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, experts say.

“There are a number of health issues,” said Michael P. Murtagh, a forensic psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Bridgewater State College.

McKinnon, who also serves on the town’s Health Board, said communicable diseases, in lodgings or any place, are a “concern of the country, not just little Raynham.”

“Of course we’re concerned,” McKinnon said. “Having said that, under the Constitution, what can we do?”

If there were health violations at Video X-tra “we certainly would be moving on them, of course,” McKinnon said. He added, “They seem, as best I know, to be complying with the law.”

That was no consolation to residents like Douglas Woodford.

“If that activity is going on down there, I don’t think we have room for it in our town,” Woodford, 32, said. “It’s awful.”
 

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