Adult bookstore court case could cost city taxpayers

Store owners say city law unconstitutional

INDIANAPOLIS - A lawsuit against the city by a number of adult bookstores could hit taxpayers in the pocketbook.

The suit was filed in October of 2003 and finally got in front of a federal judge last week.

Four Indianapolis area bookstores want the judge to declare the city's adult entertainment ordinance unconstitutional and they also want the city to pay for lost revenues.

The original lawsuit was filed by the Annex Bookstore at 38th Street and Pendleton Pike.  After more than 20 years in business, the city denied renewal of the store's retail license.

The licensing division said it would conduct an investigation of the business, and then several months later, the City-County Council passed another, more restrictive ordinance regulating adult entertainment.

Among other restrictions, the ordinance forbids private viewing booths and limits hours of operation.

In bolstering its more restrictive ordinance, the city argued that cutting hours of operation would cut crime in nearby neighborhoods.

Janet Fowler has lived within a block of one adult bookstore for more than 20 years, and she agrees with the city's reasoning.

"It's nothing but a troubled place," Fowler said. "It draws the worst type of people. There's been a lot of shootings. There's been a lot of break-ins."

The bookstores allege the city is trying to restrict free speech and the dissemination of protected sexually oriented content. They also allege that the ordinance allows the city to deny or suspend licenses without cause, while permitting unauthorized and warrantless searches of their businesses.

The city's corporation counsel said their policy prohibits them from commenting on pending litigation.

If the bookstores prevail in their claim, the payout could be in excess of a million dollars.

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