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Judge refuses to halt new, stronger ordinance placed on sexually oriented businesses

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Local citizens determined to protect their families from sexually oriented businesses have won their first legal battle.  A group of sex-shop owners who filed suit against the city of Grand Rapids have lost their bid for a preliminary injunction, which would have halted enforcement of the city’s newly adopted ordinance.  The measure places time, place, and manner restrictions on the businesses in order to curb the secondary effects of their presence.

“The protection of children should always be a higher priority than protecting a sex shop,” said ADF-allied attorney Jim Wierenga, who represented citizens supporting the ordinance.  “Placing restrictions on these types of businesses is the only way to ensure that children and the rest of the community don’t suffer from the harmful secondary effects that come from such businesses.”

Prior to the adoption of the ordinance in April, the city reviewed extensive evidence documenting the negative secondary effects of sexually-oriented businesses, along with affidavits from an investigator documenting the conditions in Grand Rapids “sex shops.”  After reviewing the evidence, the commission concluded that sexually-oriented businesses “are often associated with a wide variety of adverse secondary effects, including, but not limited to, personal and property crimes, prostitution, potential spread of disease, lewdness, public indecency, illicit drug use and drug trafficking, negative impacts on surrounding properties, urban blight, litter and sexual assault and exploitation.”


A copy of the opinion denying the motion for preliminary injunction in Sensations v. City of Grand Rapids and Little Red Barn Adult Theatre & Bookstore v. City of Grand Rapids by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan is available here.

“The citizens of Grand Rapids should not be penalized for attempting to prevent the harmful effects of neighborhood sex shops, which have long been evident,” said attorney Scott Bergthold, former president of Community Defense Counsel (a resource of ADF), who represented the city in its efforts to uphold the ordinance.  “Grand Rapids officials should be commended for their efforts to shield the community from the documented negative effects of sexually-oriented businesses.”

ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.    

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