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Judge rules Starship sold prohibited items; owner says they're not toys, but 'novelties'

An Aug. 5 ruling by Coweta County Chief Magistrate Jim Stripling found the Starship Adult Novelties and Gifts store on Ga. Highway 34 at Thomas Crossroads in violation of the county obscenity ordinance. Starship attorney Alan Begner said he will appeal the ruling and potentially file a constitutional challenge in Coweta Superior Court.

Starship opened its Coweta store in late 2010. An obscenity ordinance adopted by the Coweta County Commission just before the store received a business license prohibits the use of sex toys unless the devices are for a bona fide medical, scientific, legislative, judicial, law enforcement, scientific or educational purpose.

At issue was the county’s contention that Starship was distributing devices used primarily for stimulating genital organs. Though the store has been open for nearly three years, Coweta County attorney Nathan Lee on Thursday said the action was taken now because issues relating to Starship had been in constant litigation since the ordinance was enacted.

From his perspective and pertaining to the conditions for sale, Begner said Starship was not selling the items for non-privileged reasons, adding that the items are also sold as novelties, which is not illegal. Begner noted that the state law prohibiting the sale of sex toys was struck down in 2006.

Stripling in his ruling concluded that Starship had violated the obscenity statue, imposed a fine of $205 and stated that the store should cease selling the items.

Begner is appealing the decision, effectively stalling the ruling until the matter is decided in Coweta County Superior Court.

Begner on Thursday said he did not bring up a constitutional challenge of the county’s obscenity ordinance in magistrate court. But that might change, Begner added.

“If we win the appeal the county can leave us alone or go after us,” Begner said. “If they go after us or if we lose the appeal, I’m preparing a constitutional challenge to the Coweta County ordinance that will be filed in Superior Court.”

A move by Coweta County in early 2010 to deny Starship a business license was reversed in Coweta County Superior Court.

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