MIDVALE — Four days. Four tickets.
And if all goes according to plan, John Haltom, the owner of Dr. John's Lingerie and Novelty Boutique in Midvale, will get his fifth citation Wednesday for not having any city business license. Haltom said he has no plans of getting a license and is daring the city to shut him down.
In fact, Haltom's filed a lawsuit saying the sexually oriented business (SOB) license city officials say he must obtain to run his store is unconstitutional and prohibits his freedom of expression, according to his attorney Andrew McCullough.
"I'm not a sexually oriented business," Haltom said. "I carry adult products. But I'm not an adult bookstore. I don't want to be classified as something like that."
So far Midvale police and city officials are taking a low-key approach to dealing with Haltom, simply ticketing him once each day for a class B misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $1,000.
City administrator Lee King admits that as of Monday, there was nothing in Haltom's store that is illegal. But Haltom said that on Tuesday he put 100 X-rated videos in his store and possibly illegally sold half of them by the end of the day .
The controversy is destined to be resolved in court. McCullough said he filed a suit last week against Midvale and King says the city is in the process of preparing paperwork and hopes to have something filed by the end of the week.
"We're not saying he can't sell the stuff," said King. "We're just saying you have to have an SOB license."
An SOB license requires that no one under 18 be allowed in the store and that the store windows be tinted, King said.
So far, Haltom has kept his windows clear.
There is speculation, according to King, that Haltom is not applying for a license because he wouldn't be able to get one. Anyone convicted for sexually oriented crimes or obscenity cannot get an SOB license, King said.
Haltom has already been convicted in Omaha, Neb., in two cases of distributing obscene materials. Haltom was also acquitted in another case involving the same charge and is scheduled for trial in September on three counts of distributing obscene materials and one count of distributing obscene materials to a minor.
Each of the charges, which are considered a class I misdemeanor under Nebraska law, is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, involved Haltom distributing pornographic videos, according to Omaha City Prosecutor Marty Conboy.
"He's been very adamant about his right to sell this stuff and that it is not obscene," Conboy said. "It's kind of a healthy discussion to have for a community to look at what you want to have in your community. The statute kind of leaves it at a sliding scale. . . . The best test of that is what the jurors decide when they see this."
Haltom's adult store was the first in Omaha in 30 years, Conboy said.
Despite being convicted and sentenced to jail in two of the Omaha cases, an appeal allowed Haltom to remain free and come to Midvale. His application for a regular business license was rejected more than a month ago.
King doesn't believe its possible for anybody to get an SOB license for State Street in Midvale, regardless of their criminal background.
And despite the possible $1,000-a-day fine Haltom could pay for each ticket, city administrators say it doesn't add up to the free publicity he's been getting.
"He would like the neighborhood to come out and picket," King said. "He'd like the publicity if the city arrested him."
Contributing: Diane Urbani