Virginia Grand Jury Indicts Movie Gallery

Anne Winter
KILMARNOCK, Va. — A grand jury has indicted video rental giant Movie Gallery as a public nuisance for selling adult videos and displaying R-rated and unrated videos with "obscene" boxcovers in a local store's main shopping area.

Assistant Commonwealth attorney J.W. Harmon told the Free-Lance Star that the indictment asks Movie Gallery to close its back room, where all adult videos are displayed and to display its nonadult — but questionable — videos so that children can not easily view their covers.

The Free-Lance Star reported that 94 Lancaster County residents petitioned in August to declare Movie Gallery a public nuisance, arguing that the store "exposes the community to obscene and pornographic materials which constitute a public nuisance."

The group also alleged that the store "does not provide adequate safeguards to protect children from exposure to this material."

If found guilty, Movie Gallery could face a fine of up to $10,000 and be ordered to make the requested changes in its store.

Adult industry attorney J.D. Obenberger told XBIZ he doesn't believe that an adult video store's displays can be considered public, and prohibiting the display of nonobscene materials would infringe upon the 1st Amendment.

Movie Gallery's store manager had no comment, and a Movie Gallery representative said that company policy does not allow discussion of pending legal matters.

The petition group, led by a Middlesex county resident, also helped enact new adult-oriented zoning restrictions, which have wiped out all adult-oriented businesses from both Lancaster and Middlesex counties.