By Alex Fees
PEVELY, Mo. (KSDK) - A local battle over decency has ended in Pevely with a lingerie store winning a federal court case to open a retail outlet here.
Pure Pleasure Boutique is located just off Interstate 55. Attorney Bob Kister represents the owners of the store locally.
"What they were planning to do in Pevely, a new concept, was have a store that sold lingerie, marital aids, lubricants, things of that nature," Kister said. "But not have any pornography; nothing that would be embarrassing, such that women wouldn't want to go into the store, things like that."
In late December, Kister said a federal court decided in favor of Pure Pleasure Boutique.
"The store actually opened in 2010," said Kister. "They've been there but without any signage, without water or sewer hooked up to the building. And unable to get building permits to complete about four-fifths of the square footage of the store."
Kister said the court ruling came December 21.
"The court ruled completely in our favor because the Constitution prohibits any government entity from denying First Amendment rights. My clients have been in full compliance with all of the city's ordinances from the outset and although we sell lingerie and marital aids and so forth, under state law they are not what they state statutes describe as a sexually-oriented business. And therefore the city's efforts to regulate the store as a sexually-oriented business were off-base."
Now comes the penalty phase of the court proceeding.
"So the attorney fees will be a big part of it and we have a store accountant working on getting us some figures on what the damages are," said Kister. "It's what the store would have been able to take in if it had proper signage and licensing."
Kister said the court has also ordered that Pevely violated the store owners' civil rights, entitling them to recover their attorney fees. Kister said his office has billed about $28,000. Kister said a Constitutional law attorney out of Florida has billed more than $40,000.
Then there's the question of damages.
"It's been 2 years that the store has not been making that much compared to other, comparable stores that are being looked at. I'm sure that's going to run into many thousands of dollars."
Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?
"I would expect tens," said Kister.
Kister said city officials were concerned because of the other stores his clients operate. But he says they needed to consider what's being sold in the store located within their city limits.
"The other stores are called Megacenters and there's one in North Broadway in St. Louis, there's one in Fairview Heights in Illinois, and they sell some racier things."
He said some of the merchandise in those stores would be considered pornographic under state statutes.
"And sexy is not the same as sex," he added.
NewsChannel 5 contacted Pevely Mayor John Knobloch and City Administrator Jason Eisenbeis regarding this story. Neither returned a voicemail.