Ex-Adult Store Employee Loses Sexual Harassment Suit

Matt O'Conner
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — A former employee of AVE Inc. adult video stores has sued what remains of the Texas-based chain for sexual harassment, and lost.

In his complaint, plaintiff Billy J. Davis alleged that his male supervisor used “profane and vulgar” language, including frequent monologs about his affinity for anal sex.

Davis claimed the supervisor groped him and suggested that he offer sexual favors to customers.

“He would tell me how I might enjoy what he did to some of the customers,” Davis said.

Davis asked for around $700,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, but after only a few hours of deliberation, but the jury awarded him nothing, finding that he did not prove his case and AVE had done nothing wrong — at least in this case.

AVE last year was at the center of a federal indictment for racketeering, obscenity and tax evasion. As part of a plea agreement, owner John K. Coil and his son, John A., admitted to mailing fraudulent tax returns and transporting obscene material, specifically a video titled “Nympho Bride.”

John K. was sentenced to five years in prison while John H. was given three years of probation.

The U.S. government had initially seized 58 Coil-owned properties in seven states, including 27 adult-oriented stores, but allowed several stores in New Mexico and Arizona to remain open in exchange for the plea agreement.

Davis wanted a piece of the profits from those stores to make up for the sexually charged environment he claimed he endured while working at the San Antonio store. He sought $450,000-$500,000 in compensatory damages and several hundred thousand more in punitive damages.

The jury heard the testimony of a half-dozen witnesses over a day and a half, and that was enough. They were not convinced.

Davis’ former supervisor, said on the stand that he never touched Davis nor made suggestive comments beyond the jokes someone working at an adult retail store would expect.

Lawyers for the defense pointed out that there is no record of Davis complaining until he was fired.

But Davis said there was no one to complain to because the identities of upper management were hidden from employees, who knew accountants and owners only by code names and initials.

He also read from a company manual instructing employees to keep their mouths shut about store matters. “If you cannot keep quiet, we will find someone who can,” the policy stated.

Defense lawyers countered by reading positive comments Davis had written in his personal journal about the store.

That was enough to convince the jury that Davis' claim lacked merit. They returned a not-guilty verdict the same day testimony wrapped up.