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Taboo Video Controversy Heating Up

EVERETT, Washington — Robert Martin isn’t waiting to see whether the adult-video store that recently opened next door to his karate school will scare away his students.

After 18 years in the same south Everett building, Martin is planning to move Family Karate Center someplace where he doesn’t have to explain to kids why they can’t rent videos at the store they walk by when they come to classes.

“I feel I don’t have a choice,” Martin said as about a dozen children practiced their karate moves in the background. “I don’t think I could run a successful family business next to an adult video store.”

As Martin prepares to move, Kim Borgatt is gearing up for a fight. The owner of Starbright Early Learning Center, which is across Seventh Avenue SE from Taboo Video, said she has hired an attorney to explore her legal options. Borgatt is thinking of taking pictures of the video store’s customers and posting them on the Internet.

“We’re going to make their clients very uncomfortable,” she said.

Borgatt’s moves come as the City Council is considering a temporary ban on new adult video stores within 1,000 feet of child care centers, schools, churches and homes. The council is scheduled to discuss the proposal at its April 7 meeting. City Attorney Jim Iles said the city could face a lawsuit if it were to try to force Taboo out of its location or if it were to try to enact permanent restrictions on adult retail outlets.

Borgatt is convinced that she and other opponents of the store will be able to force the store to relocate.

“We are going to get rid of this guy,” Borgatt said from her office in the day care center, from where children can clearly see the large Taboo Video sign. “We’re not giving up. We know we won’t be able to get them out like that. We’re in for the long haul.”

Martin said he hasn’t got the time to wait. About two-thirds of his school’s 100 students are children, and some parents have told him they would pull their children out of the school unless Martin moves. The karate school shares a parking lot with the store, and students must drive or walk past the Taboo Video sign and the store entrance before entering the school.

“I have people who have been coming here for years who say they’re not comfortable pulling into the parking lot,” Martin said. “They don’t want to be associated with it.”

Martin is not only next door to Taboo. He pays rent to the video store’s owner, Seattle-based JVN Corp., which several months ago bought the building that houses both the store and the school.

The president of JVN Corp., Leonard Griesel, did not return phone calls for comment. He said last week that he wasn’t worried about protests against the store because “we have a business license and we are completely legal.”

Sandi Miles, director of Another Best Childcare, which is two houses down from Taboo, said her day care center isn’t planning to move. No parents have withdrawn their children from the center, but two prospective parents were so upset by Taboo that they decided to enroll their kids in the center’s Silver Lake location instead of the Seventh Avenue SE branch, she said.

Robert and Debbie Hill live next door to the store with their three youngest children. The sign borders their front lawn.

“It just changes your whole lifestyle,” Robert Hill said as he clicked through pictures of a weekend protest against Taboo on his computer. “You worry about your daughter being out in the front yard and who they might have contact with.”

The Hills are spearheading a petition drive against the store that they say has yielded about 700 signatures. They also organized picketing in front of the store last weekend, and they’re planning more protests this weekend.

Councilman Ron Gipson was among the protesters on Saturday.

“Please don’t come here. Our children live in this neighborhood,” said one sign. Another read: “Jesus is in love with you. He died for you. Please don’t come here.”

“I think we detoured a lot of business for them on Friday and Saturday night,” Debbie Hill said. “There were people who had their turn signals on and were slowing down to turn in, but they saw the protest and drove on.”



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