Bondage Site Webmaster Sues County Over Alleged Civil Rights Violations

Anne Winter
KINGSTON, Wash. — Bondage site HouseOfGord.com operators Jeffrey and Susan Marie Owen have filed suit in U.S. District Court against several Kitsap County officials, citing civil rights violations.

The suit is a result of a search of the couple’s residence using a warrant that was allegedly obtained without probable cause to believe that the Owens were operating a “sexual encounter center.”

The Kitsap County code describes a sexual encounter center as a business in which one of the following takes place: “(1) Physical contact in the form of wrestling or tumbling between persons of the opposite sex, or (2) Activities between male and female persons of the same sex when one or more … is in a state of nudity or seminude.”

The Owens’ lawyer, Robert Apgood, said the couple use their home to occasionally photograph models for their website. He told XBIZ that county officials prepared their search warrant without any evidence that the location, which is located within 1,000 feet of a school, was being used to as a sexual encounter center.

Apgood said none of the items seized during the search could be used as evidence.

Apgood also said it is possible that the search was made solely because of a rumor North Kitsap School District Superintendent Eugene J. Medina had told Lieutenant Earl Smith, saying that Mr. Owen was operating a “sex bondage site” out of his home.

Kitsap prosecutor Russell Hauge told XBIZ that, to his recollection, the search warrant was issued after pictures of BDSM acts taking place in the Owens’ driveway surfaced. This violated the county’s 1,000-feet rule.

However, Apgood said this violation had nothing to do with why the warrant was issued. Plus, he said, the driveway was blocked from the main road by 50 feet of trees and could not have been seen by passers-by.

Lingering resentment resulting from a lawsuit Jeffrey Owen filed against the school district in 2004 may have sparked Medina to share the rumor, Apgood said. Apgood believes the county officials acted with malice, not for the purpose of justice.

Hauge said he simply wants the Owens to keep their business indoors.