Aldermen Reject Obscenity Law, Say State's Is Enough

Article excerpt

A majority of the O'Fallon Board of Aldermen decided Wednesday night that the city doesn't need its own ordinance against obscenity. They say the state law already gives the city the clout it needs.

Alderman Dan Brungard, 3rd Ward, called the issue "a can of worms we do not need to open." But Alderman Cynthia Davis, 2nd Ward, said she would continue to push for an ordinance specific to O'Fallon.

Davis, who owns a Christian bookstore, had asked for the ordinance, citing problems with a video store in Warson Woods, where her father is an alderman. The store, Video Update, plans to open another outlet in O'Fallon. On May 7, St. Louis County police confiscated more than 1,000 sexually oriented videotapes from a Video Update store in Warson Woods and one in south St. Louis County. On Wednesday, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch said the store operators had agreed to remove videos suspected of being obscene. In return, the county agreed not to prosecute the store or its employees. O'Fallon aldermen did not mention the recent developments concerning Video Update. They discussed a draft bill prepared by City Attorney David Schmidt at the board's previous direction. Schmidt told aldermen that his draft closely mirrored state law because that gave the city's ordinance its best chance to be upheld. In response to questions from aldermen, Schmidt advised aldermen several times to rely on state statute and forego a separate ordinance. "If it's truly obscene, the (St. Charles) county prosecutor will get involved and prosecute at the state level and have greater results than on the municipal level," Schmidt said. He asked, "Do you want this on the books so you can show residents your concern? If you want to enforce it, it's going to be difficult." He advised aldermen to "think long and hard because it's an expensive path to go down." Schmidt had included provisions that would allow an obscenity case to be prosecuted in municipal court, but he said that community standards wou ld be decided by a jury. O'Fallon's municipal court lacks the jurisdiction for a jury, so the matter would be sent to the state court, which is the St. Charles County Circuit Court, anyway, city officials said. Schmidt warned aldermen that the draft would not prevent a business that disseminated obscene material from opening in O'Fallon. "This is not a zoning ordinance," he said. …