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The Johnson County grand jury didn't return an obscenity indictment for 10 weeks. Then, on September 25, obscenity charges were announced against Hollywood at Home, Spirit Halloween and Priscilla's. Eight days later, a fourth indictment was unsealed, accusing a store called Gringo Loco of selling an obscene video.
Jurors never questioned representatives from Hollywood at Home, says Richard Bryant, an attorney for the video store.
"This grand jury never talked to the stores to find out what percentage of their stock or what the demand of it was," Bryant says. "This grand jury never talked to any therapist that talked about the therapeutic value of some of the mechanical items from Priscilla's. This grand jury heard what the prosecutor's office wanted them to hear."
What happens in a grand jury courtroom stays there. Grand juries have a 90-day window to investigate businesses, with an option of continuing for an additional 180 days. No defense is provided, though jurors can summon witnesses and evidence.
No police or prosecutors would discuss the details of the cases with The Pitch.
The recent action isn't the first time that a grand jury has met in Johnson County to consider what's obscene. In 1989, an anti-pornography coalition called for a grand jury to define obscenity. Representatives from Hollywood at Home testified before the grand jury, which also targeted other businesses, but no indictments were issued. In the end, the grand jury issued a four-page report that suggested banning sexually explicit videos featuring incest, rape, sex with minors, bondage, torture, flagellation or bestiality. The report also recommended outlawing "fetish" films and sex tapes "lacking significant story line or plot." The grand jury also set guidelines for stocking sexually explicit material and set a minimum age of 21 for renting or selling sexually explicit material. The report became an informal guide for prosecutors and businesses.
The latest Johnson County grand jury formed in mid-July and disbanded on October 2. Before they broke, the jurors issued a final set of recommendations. They called on law enforcement to enforce obscenity laws and on the media to educate the public about them. They asked business owners to reconsider selling potentially obscene material and urged them to stock "all questionable material" out of sight of minors. Finally, they encouraged lawmakers and district courts to retain the grand jury as a tool.
The statement lacked guidelines for business owners or prosecutors as to what exactly this grand jury considered obscene.
Instead, it signed off on criminal charges that will be decided by a Johnson County jury, which will have to review a stack of dirty magazines, DVDs and sex toys.
Dozens of piñatas hang from the ceiling of Gringo Loco. They hang so low that customers have to duck to navigate the aisles and avoid getting kicked in the head by a candy-filled Spider-Man.
The shelves of Gringo Loco, a tiny Latino convenience store in an Olathe strip mall, are stocked with ethnic foods, knickknacks and Spanish-language CDs.
The grand jury accused the store of selling Babysitter #18, a 2004 film about sitters watching a 30-year-old baby, seducing a police officer and getting the attention of a "cop — and his night stick."
Cosby likes to lump stores such as Gringo Loco and Hollywood at Home with chain adult bookstores and strip clubs on his list of SOBs.
And Cosby's cause has caught on in Overland Park. A parent filed a complaint against Spirit Halloween, a costume shop affiliated with Spencer's Gifts.