Kansas Grand Jury Hands Down Indictments for Promoting Obscenity

Tod Hunter
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A grand jury has accused three Johnson County businesses of promoting obscenity, according to indictments handed down late Tuesday afternoon. Even though the grand jury was convened for the purpose of investigating obscenity, the latest indictments are its first that actually deal with the subject.

Each of the three businesses was indicted in Johnson County District Court on multiple counts, all misdemeanors. The indictments are based on findings from Aug. 22 to Sept. 17.

According to court documents, Spirit Halloween in Overland Park, Kan., displayed adult costumes in places where minors could view them. Spirit Halloween is a nationwide chain affiliated with Spencer Gifts, according to its website.

Hollywood at Home, also in Overland Park, “unlawfully and knowingly or recklessly” possessed and intended to sell four different obscene DVDs. Priscilla’s in Olathe, Kan., possessed and intended to sell an obscene DVD billed as involving teens and various obscene sex toys, according to reports.

Judge Kevin Moriarty has ordered the three defendants to appear in court Oct. 10 to hear the charges. The district attorney had no comment on the indictments, because he had yet to review evidence in the cases.

An attorney for Hollywood at Home said Wednesday that the store has been operating more than 20 years and has always complied with the law. The owners of the store also cooperated with a 1989 grand jury to draw up community standards defining obscenity.

The current grand jury did not speak with anyone from Hollywood at Home, the attorney told the Kansas City Star.

Johnson County’s grand jury, the first in the county since 1989, was convened July 16 after an anti-pornography group — the Kansas City chapter of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families — presented petitions requesting grand juries to investigate targeted businesses.

The petition drive also created grand juries in several other counties across the Kansas City area.

The grand juries' initial assignment was to investigate whether the sex shops and video rental stores mentioned in the petitions were promoting obscenity. However, grand juries are allowed to take on cases beyond the ones for which they were convened.

As of Tuesday, the Johnson County grand jury has announced indictments in more than a dozen other cases, including mortgage fraud, drunk driving, burglaries and the murder of an Overland Park teenager.