Officers of the Houston Police Department raided the Adult Video Megaplex Houston on June 9, confiscated a number of items, arrested sales clerk Jose Escalante and charged him with obscenity.
Prosecutors said Escalante was in possession of adult toys with the intent to promote and sell them. According to Texas law, it is illegal to sell an item designed exclusively for use in sexual acts. Anyone caught in possession of six or more such items is considered a distributor and open to prosecution.
If convicted, Escalante could have faced a year in prison and a $4,000 fine.
Escalante's attorney, Richard Kuniansky, argued that dozens of stores across the city sell similar products to the ones confiscated from Adult Video Megaplex and that Escalante should not have been singled out.
Kuniansky also argued that obscenity is a subjective matter. Many of the items sold at the store are advertised as massagers and cannot be assumed to be intended for purely sexual purposes, he said.
“These devices are for sale all over town, at passion parties, and some of the establishments do put on the devices that it is intended for novelty only,” Kuniansky said.
Since Escalante was merely a clerk and not a manager of the store, Kuniansky added, he should not have been held accountable for the store’s inventory.
“He's simply a clerk at the store, and the vice squad went in and arrested a clerk for possession with intent to distribute obscene devices. It's absurd,” Kuniansky said.
The jury agreed and found Escalante not guilty. No additional charges have been filed against the store or its employees.