Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Hustler sues Lexington to sell adult materials

By Murray Evans
The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - A new Hustler Hollywood store in Lexington began selling sexually oriented adult material Monday, three days after its owners filed a federal lawsuit against the city claiming their constitutional rights were violated but before the court issued a ruling.

Jimmy Flynt, the operator of the store and the brother of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, asked the U.S. District Court to declare as unconstitutional a zoning ordinance that forbids the sale of adult materials in certain areas. The ordinance was passed by the Lexington council shortly before the store opened.

The ordinance prohibits adult bookstores, adult video stores, adult cabarets, sexual entertainment centers and adult dancing and entertainment establishments at interstate highway exchanges in Fayette County. The Hustler Hollywood store sits near an interchange off Interstate 75.

Bruce Edwards, a spokesman for Lexington Mayor Teresa Ann Isaac, said Monday that the city had received a copy of the lawsuit "and it's being reviewed." Edwards declined to comment further.

The lawsuit also seeks a temporary restraining order that would allow the store to sell adult materials. No hearing date had been set, according to the U.S. District Court Clerk's office in Lexington.

Hustler Hollywood opened July 16 without adult materials. Instead, items on its shelves included T-shirts, novelty items, leather whips and condoms. The store also includes a coffee shop.

Larry Flynt, in Lexington on Monday to sign copies of his new book, Sex, Lies and Politics: The Naked Truth, said he and his brother "will go the distance" to be able to sell adult material at the store.

"It's in the lawyers' hands now," Larry Flynt said. "We don't know how the city will respond or what is going to happen, but we've built a great place and we intend to run a legal operation over here. We're going to fight for what we believe is fair."

Larry Flynt said the city hasn't treated the Hustler Hollywood store the same as other businesses.

Dewey Crowe, the city's deputy director of building inspection, said a city code enforcement official visited the Hustler Hollywood store Monday and reviewed its merchandise.

"We are reviewing what he found and formulating a response," Crowe said.

Crowe said if the store no longer meets the zoning requirement, the city would issue a notice.

"We would ask them to either remove the items or cease sale of the items and give them a specific time to do that," Crowe said. "We will give them the same opportunity we give anyone else to correct the violation out there."

If the store fails to comply with the request, the city could take its complaint to court, he said.

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