Police Raid Lingerie Shop

An obscure law sends one local lingerie store clerk to jail. And now she may forever have to register as a sex offender.
The lingerie store, Somethin’ Sexy was raided by police last week for violating Lubbock`s sexually oriented business ordinance.

“I feel like I`m in 1690 Salem, Massachusetts and we`re looking for a witch to burn” says the store’s owner.

The witch: the owner of Somethin’ Sexy. He`s speaking out about the raid of his shop and the arrest of his employee. Now, if convicted, the clerk will have to register as a sex offender.

“I think it`s ridiculous. She`s not a sex offender, she was selling something that I had instructed them it was ok to sell, I think it`s ridiculous” he says.

Earlier this month, four officers raided the shop, confiscating several toys deemed to be illegal by the Texas penal code. The code states "a person who possesses six or more obscene devices is presumed to possess them with intent to promote the same." In other words, intent to sell.

But if this is a state law, how do other Texas cities match up?

“We went to several places in Dallas where the merchandise that was deemed obscene here they have in open view on the shelves. Lubbock seems to be taking the most hard line approach that we`ve seen anywhere in Texas” says the owner.

He says not only did he keep the devices out of view, but he says there`s a huge demand for these products.

“We kept it in a closed cabinet, we did not promote it. If someone asked, then we showed them the merchandise. Our guest book, we`ve had over 1500 people sign up to receive emails and mail outs” he says.

The store is still open and the owner says he’s playing by the rules.

“We`ll sell everything that`s legal” he says.

The Lubbock Assistant District Attorney couldn`t speak specifically about this case, but did speak to us in general about obscenity laws and what the definition of obscene is in Lubbock.

“If they tell them this is a candle put in on the birthday cake this is a novelty if they tell you to use it to enjoy sexual gratification, its no longer a candle on the birthday cake” says Assistant D.A. John Grace.

What’s illegal and what’s not when it comes to sexual devices comes down to marketing and intentions.

“If the seller is selling it as a novelty and the buyer is buying it as a novelty to make fun of, then it probably has not reached the level of an obscenity” says Grace.

According to state law, it’s illegal to sell obscene devices with the intention of sexual gratification. But what is an obscene device and who`s going to be the judge of that?

“What’s considered obscene in LA is different than Lubbock and different than Des Moines. The community ultimately decides what is obscene” says Grace.

He says obscenity laws have been on the books as long as they`ve had books as a way of protecting the community from what he calls the secondary effects of obscenity which are child pornography, money laundering and prostitution.

He says it’s not the D.A.’s job to decide whether a law is fair or not but it is their job to enforce it. And if the citizens have a problem with that, it’s their job to take it to the Texas legislature.

“As a voter and a taxpayer, if you think the law is not fair, that’s what democracy is all about. Go talk to your congressman and see if you can get the law changed” says Grace.

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Air Date: 5/21/2007

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