Antiporn Petition Set Back in Missouri

Tod Hunter
LIBERTY, Mo. — Clay County Prosecutor Dan White said he will rely on law enforcement authorities to investigate whether two local adult stores are violating Missouri law, in response to local antiporn activists' recently delivered petitions demanding a grand jury investigation of the stores.

The petitions, gathered during a petition drive organized by the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, had been signed by 2,578 county residents and request that White seek grand jury investigations against Priscilla's adult stores, one in Gladstone, Mo., and one in Liberty, Mo.

The petition drive targeted adult stores in the greater Kansas City area in both Kansas and Missouri. Kansas law allows citizens to call for grand jury investigations. Missouri law does not.

Priscilla's stores sell adult videos, lingerie, greeting cards, magazines and novelty gifts. According to terms required by the city of Liberty, adult products can only make up 40 percent or less of the store's inventory.

White said that to be considered obscene by local community standards, the adult materials sold by such stores must meet the three-prong definition defined by the Supreme Court's 1973 Miller decision, which requires a jury to find that the material predominantly appeals to a prurient interest in sex; that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds the material or performance depicted or described sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and that a reasonable person would find the material lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

White said if Priscilla's has violated the law, the case could be turned over to a grand jury. If the grand jury issued an indictment, it would be up to a jury to determine if the stores were violating community standards. If found guilty of the misdemeanor, a store clerk who knowingly sold illegal material could face a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time, White said.