Spokane Valley’s plan to tighten regulations being challenged in court
The adult bookstore where a cross-dressing legislator first became ensnared in a career-ending extortion scandal in 2007 is being targeted by Spokane Valley City Hall.
City officials have declared the Hollywood Erotic Boutique on East Sprague Avenue a public nuisance, citing group masturbation and other lewd behavior witnessed by an undercover sheriff’s detective and chronicled in numerous pages of police reports. The city wants to impose stricter regulations.
The owners are fighting the move, however, claiming the city’s adult entertainment regulations are “vague, overly broad” and violate their rights under the First and 14th Amendments.
Both sides will argue their case today in Spokane County Superior Court before Judge Annette Plese.
The store is licensed as an adult retail establishment, meaning that it can sell DVDs, lingerie, sex toys and other items. But the business has a second floor that contains six small rooms where customers pay extra to watch sexually explicit movies. The city maintains in court documents that the movie viewing area should be licensed as an adult entertainment business, which carries stricter regulations such as a prohibition on group viewing and a requirement that the rooms be monitored by staff.
In response, the business owners have argued that they are operating minitheaters and don’t fall under adult entertainment regulations. Jim Sicilia, president of CA-WA Corp., released a written statement Thursday focusing on how his store generates sales taxes and employee wages.
“As you can see, we are contributing to the economy; our stores are very clean, run in a professional manner,” he wrote. “The only people that are opposed to our stores are a minority and can be counted with one hand: politicians.”
Spokane Valley City Attorney Cary Driskell said it is the city’s policy to not comment on ongoing litigation, but said he looks forward to the court’s decision on the issues. “We feel very strongly about the positions we’ve taken in the pleadings before the court,” he said.
Among the documents are multiple police reports by Spokane County sheriff’s Detective James Wakefield, who visited the second floor several times since 2007 while undercover. The reports detail Wakefield finding the rooms filled with people, usually men and usually in groups, masturbating as they watched movies with “graphic sexual images.” The report also noted that during one trip the detective found a woman masturbating in one of the rooms while several men watched her and also masturbated.
Wakefield said in his declaration that he also visited the business several times in uniform, and during those visits a clerk immediately turned off the videos. The police reports indicate that several men were cited for indecent exposure during those visits.
The store also played a role in the 2007 downfall of former Washington state Rep. Richard Curtis, a Republican from the Vancouver, Wash., suburb of La Center. According to court records, Curtis engaged in oral sex with a part-time gay model at the store, then met up with the same man later at a downtown hotel where the two reportedly had sex.
The other man was accused of stealing Curtis’ wallet and demanding cash from him. Charges of extortion and theft against the model were eventually dropped. Curtis, who had been in Spokane for a GOP legislative strategy session, resigned his House seat.
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