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Last updated on Thursday, July 19, 2012
(BEDFORD) - Lawrence County Prosecutor Michelle Woodward plans to review an investigation by the Indiana State Police of a complaint filed against Family Video store regarding dissemination of material harmful to minors.
Bob Bridge of the Times-Mail reports that Bedford Mayor Shawna Girgis provided background for the complaint following Monday's board of works meetings.
"Sam Shaw and I met with (Police) Chief (Dennis) Parsley before I left on the trade mission to China," she said. "Mr. Shaw has voiced this concern on a few occasions.
"In 2008, he first voiced his concern. At that time, we pulled out the plans for Family Video, and there was nothing that indicated there would be an adult section in the video store.
"The police went out and looked at it and confirmed adult materials were being rented from that facility. They measured the distance between the school property (Bedford Middle School) and Family Video. They confirmed it was in violation of the statute."
Indiana Code 35-49-3-3 prohibits the selling, renting, or displaying for sale or rent to any person matter that is harmful to minors within 500 feet of the nearest property line of a school or church.
Girgis said Greg Pittman, the city's attorney, drafted a letter in 2008 to Family Video informing the company it was in violation of the code. She said Parsley sent a copy of the report to the prosecutor's office.
"At that point," Girgis said, "we feel like we did all the city can do. I do not support the adult movie industry. I have a problem with the content. The city conducted a criminal investigation, and now it is up to the prosecutor."
Woodward, who was out of town Monday, said she talked to Pittman about the issue in 2008. Then, more recently, representatives of the Indiana State Police decided to investigate the store on behalf of the governor's office.
"They contacted me for authorization," Woodward said. "They assigned a detective, and I just received their report before I left town. It is sitting in my inbox.
"We have not had a chance to review the investigation. We'll go over it when I get back, then we'll make a decision."
Woodward noted she had talked with legal counsel for the video store in the past. She also said the statute itself has been questioned in recent years.
Pittman concurred. He said a 2005 case in Marion County revealed there may be an issue with the 500-foot restriction being constitutional.
"In that case, the Marion County prosecutor sent a letter to the video store demanding the store remove its sexually explicit materials," Pittman explained. "The video store removed the material then sued for an injunction asking the court to prohibit prosecution under this statute because the 500-foot restriction was unconstitutional.
"The court agreed with the store and held that the store would likely succeed on the merits because this restriction is a 'time, place, and manner restriction' on protected speech and therefore must serve a substantial government interest and be narrowly tailored to allow reasonable alternative channels for such communication.
"The state must be able to demonstrate a sufficient connection between the speech regulated by the law and the secondary effects the law was aimed to address."
Pittman said he understood why Woodward has been cautious.
"The state has to be able to show the 500-foot restriction will prevent the secondary effects of renting the harmful material to minors," he said. "The court did not believe such evidence was presented to support the statute.
"The decision in that case is only a memorandum opinion and is not binding precedent, but it clearly shows the court believes the 500-foot restriction is unconstitutional."
A spokesperson for Family Video could not be reached for comment.
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