Georgia County Passes Strict New Regulations on Adult Stores

Jan 28, 2009 3:00 PM PST
NEWNAN, Ga. — A county in Georgia has banned the sale of sex toys, some lubricants and possibly even certain kinds of condoms.

The Coweta County, Ga., Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the new ordinance, which regulates adult bookstores and other sexually oriented businesses. One part of the ordinance's language is precise, banning anyone from "knowingly" selling or possessing with the intent to sell “any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.”

But the law's new language also dumps some language from a previous version that banned similar products but exempted condoms. The new law includes no such language and leaves many types of condoms — those with warming or otherwise stimulating effects — open to prohibition. Violating the law can cost up to $1,000 or six months in jail.

Citizens can get around the law by demonstrating that the toy or item in question satisfies "a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purpose."

Last November, an adult bookstore chain called Starship made plans to open a franchise in Coweta County. The company has yet to open the new store, despite the efforts of CEO Kelly Rogers to satisfy all of the requirements of the county's laws. To date, the county has denied Rogers a business license.

Rogers attended last Monday's county commissioner meeting that saw the approval of the new ordinance. He said he had told his lawyer about the new law and was planning his next move.

“The biggest thing is, I’m not leaving. I’m not going away,” he said. “If we have to fight, we will fight. We will try to negotiate first; and if that doesn’t do any good, we’ll fight,” he said. I just think it is ridiculous to spend taxpayer dollars to drag this out.”

The new law is the brainchild of Tennessee attorney Scott Bergthold, whose firm is dedicated to crafting laws that regulate adult businesses. Bergthold predicted that the new law would hold up to legal scrutiny.

“I’m sure the county wouldn’t pass something that wasn’t constitutional,” he said.

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