- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) - A northeast Kansas couple who campaigned a decade ago against an adult store along Interstate 70 that sells sex toys have returned to Abilene and are calling for a grand jury to explore whether the store promotes obscenity.

Phillip Cosby spearheaded protests and sought legal remedies when the Lion’s Den first opened a few miles west of Abilene, the Salina Journal (http://bit.ly/19NSQXB ) reported. He said he has collected petitions with about 400 signatures aimed at getting criminal charges filed against the store’s owners, and he plans to file them in Dickinson County District Court on Thursday.

“Here we are 10 years later,” he told the newspaper. “This is unfinished business.”

“The Lion’s Den has been a good member of the community and a good corporate citizen,” said J. Michael Murray, a Cleveland attorney representing the company. “It’s disappointing if someone is going to launch another attack against them. It would be ill advised. It would be unfortunate and disappointing, and it would be something we would vigorously defend against. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.”

Cosby and his wife, Cathy, returned to live in Abilene last year after spending several years in the Kansas City area working for various groups that promote conservative family values by fighting pornography and obscenity.

The negative consequences of easily accessible pornography on the Internet in “rewiring a whole generation of children” are becoming apparent, Cosby said. He said sexting has become a huge problem and said he has worked to raise awareness of the effects of the sexualization of American culture.

Cosby is state director of the American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri. In his previous battle against the Lion’s Den, the store owners were indicted but never prosecuted.

The petition requests that a grand jury investigate alleged violations of Kansas obscenity laws within 60 days.

According to statute, the petition will be reviewed by the county election official to determine that it was signed by a sufficient number of registered Dickinson County voters - 100 plus 2 percent of the total number of votes cast for governor in the county in the most recent election. Cosby said he is confident he will submit enough signatures.

The Lion’s Den opened in 2003, selling sex toys, explicit videos and other adult items. Cosby helped form an opposition group whose members picketed the store, threatened to report customers to their employers and circulated a petition to empanel a grand jury to charge the store with promoting obscenity.

A grand jury returned a 29-count indictment, but the case was thrown out after a judge determined that signatures on the petition didn’t meet state requirements.

The Dickinson County attorney later filed 10 misdemeanor charges related to 10 different sex toys sold at the store, but those charges were dropped after a section of the obscenity statute was found to be “fatally flawed,” Cosby said.

The Legislature corrected the law, but the charges weren’t refiled.

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Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, http://www.salina.com