Originally created 09/06/00

Sex shop votes fail passage



The Augusta Commission's decision about the fate of a local sex shop proved anti-climatic Tuesday.

Two options - one to revoke the business license of Lucy's Love Shop, the other to put the store's owner on probation - failed to garner enough votes to pass, landing the issue back where it started. The agenda item will be placed before commissioners at their next full meeting, scheduled for Sept. 19.

"I'm going to be at a loss in terms of defining what is what," Commissioner Lee Beard said before viewing evidence presented by the Richmond County Sheriff's Department. "It's a difficult situation that we have thrust upon us because we're going to have to make a decision soon."

Prior to the unsuccessful motions, city officials looked at two brown paper bags full of items confiscated from the lingerie and novelty store by police. The city panel also viewed a video of the shop taken with a hidden camera by female undercoverpolice officer.

The commission is charged with enforcing a state code that says it is illegal to sell items "primarily for the stimulation of the human genital organ." Lucy's, located in the shopping center behind California Dreaming restaurant, was raided by police July 22 after deputies received complaints that the shop was in violation of state ordinances.

A store clerk was charged with distributing obscene material. Since then, the sheriff's department has identified nearly 200 items considered questionable when held against the state ordinance.

"We're going to be the laughing stock of all Georgia," Commissioner Willie Mays said as the novelty items in question were handed down from one representative to the next, some bursting into laughter at times. "We're sitting up here passing around artificial penises."

Commissioners who voted to revoke the shop's license were Ulmer Bridges, Jerry Brigham, Bill Khulke, Andy Cheek and Steve Shepard. Lee Beard, Henry Brigham and Willie Mays voted against revocation; Richard Colclough abstained; and Marion Williams was absent. A motion must have six votes to pass.

About 20 love shop customers, many sporting T-shirts and bumper stickers bearing the slogan "Your Pleasure is our Business," showed up to support Lucy's owner Michelle Ballington.

"If you don't want to go, don't go," said Kim Debacher, a 36-year-old Lucy's customer who says the shop offers many items in sizes and styles different from those available at more traditional stores. "If you think you're going to be offended, don't go."

Reach Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.