Open for more than a dozen years, the High Ridge porn emporium catered to the raw side of human sexuality, drawing customers who tended to park in back and occasional picketers who insisted the place was a breeding ground for rapists and child molesters.
The front was a run-of-the-mill sex shop, featuring videos, magazines, blow-up dolls, lotions, leather and various rubber gadgets. More adventuresome patrons went straight to the back.
For a $5 minimum, customers in the back could cruise between private video-viewing booths equipped with locking doors -- the more money you paid, the longer you could stay. Others watched pornographic videos on a big-screen television in a nearby room open to anyone who bought an $8 ticket, good for eight hours. A similar room in the basement was reserved for couples.
Management billed the rooms as theaters, but there was a lot more than watching going on.
The theaters and the booths were places to have sex, either with people you knew or strangers you'd probably never see again. The sparse décor -- and semen stains -- reflected the purpose. Each booth held a paper-towel dispenser, a plastic chair and a trash can. The theaters were equipped with little more than benches and wastebaskets.
Open 24/7, Award Video was a moneymaker, so much so that management was building a larger theater for singles. "I wish I had just a tenth of what they brought in, especially off the theaters," says Bill, a former clerk who asks that his real name not be published.
On March 13, there was plenty of action.
About twenty people were in the store just before 10 p.m. that Wednesday night. The basement theater was empty, but at least eight people had gathered in the ground-floor room, which measured about ten by twenty feet. There was plenty of sex, both live and on tape. Four men stood in a semicircle around a woman, who performed oral sex and masturbated them. She was blond and looked to be in her late twenties. Attractive. And very friendly. Call her Lori.
"We were just playing around and having fun," she says, speaking on the condition that her name not be published.
One of the men gathered around Lori that night was her husband. Tall and rugged, Glenn -- also a pseudonym -- looks a bit like Sam Elliott. Married a little more than a year ago, the couple appears very much in love, often holding hands while discussing a night they'd rather forget. He has her name tattooed on his chest. "We're open-minded," Glenn explains, leaving the rest to the imagination. "We like to meet people."
Glenn and Lori had driven more than an hour from a small town two counties away to reach Award Video, which they'd discovered through an advertisement in a swingers' magazine. There was nothing like it where they lived. This was their fourth visit. Fueled by a half-pint of vodka split two ways, they were more than ready to roll.
The men in the theater didn't confine their attentions to Lori. As time passed, the men began masturbating each other. Acts of man-on-man fellatio broke out. Then two men walked in. Almost immediately, Glenn sensed that something was wrong.
"They looked aggressive and hostile," Glenn recalls. "I thought they might be queer-bashers." He was worried enough to leave the party. "As soon as they came in, [Glenn] got weirded out and said, 'Let's go,'" Lori says. And so the couple went to a bathroom.
The newcomers surveyed the theater, taking mental notes that would later appear in police reports, court documents and news broadcasts. They were undercover officers with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, here to shut this place down. While Glenn and Lori washed up, the officers moved to a booth, where they called a waiting raid team that normally served drug-search warrants. This would be a by-the-book operation.
The element of surprise came easy, given that Award Video had no windows. The only warning came when Bill, who'd stopped by on his day off, glanced at a surveillance monitor behind the front counter and spotted someone outside running toward the door. He looked like just another horny guy.
"I was talking to the clerk on duty," Bill recalls. "I went, 'I guess this guy's really in a hurry to get in here' -- those were my exact words. So [the other clerk] started laughing: 'Yeah, they're always in a hurry.'"
No one could just walk into Award Video. Rather, customers were required to present identification and buy $1 membership cards before a clerk buzzed them into the store from an alcove. Because the other clerk was busy, Bill went to the alcove window to make the appropriate checks. "I opened the window, and the next thing I know there's a gun and a badge and a gray-haired man with very piercing blue eyes and a very pissed-off look on his face saying, 'Open the door or I'm going to kick it down,'" Bill says.
At least nine cops swarmed through the building, guns drawn, ordering everyone to hit the floor. The memory draws a wry smile from Bill. "We tried to keep that place clean, but with as much traffic that came in, the last place you want your face is on the floor of an adult-video store," he says. "They immediately cuffed us and told us to lay on our stomachs."
One by one, the deputies collected identification from the people in the store. They weren't satisfied with Glenn's driver's license. "The cops took my freaking wallet and found pictures of my wife," he says. Lori wasn't wearing clothes in the photographs, which apparently fascinated the deputies. "They started passing around pictures of me -- sexy shots," Lori says. "I felt humiliated, pissed off, embarrassed. I have no problem with my husband having pictures of me, but they're not for everyone.
"It's nobody's business but who we choose."
As far as Lori and Glenn are concerned, the same rule should apply to what goes on in places such as Award Video. "I don't believe any person on this earth has any right to have an opinion on someone's sexual preferences, as long as it's not a child and you're not hurting anyone," she says.
Not so, says Jefferson County prosecutor Robert G. Wilkins, who's determined to put a stop to sex in public places, even if it means using one of the most homophobic laws in the nation.
Glenn, Bill and four other men accused of having man-on-man sex in the Award Video theater stand charged with first-degree sexual misconduct, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of a year in jail, plus a huge stigma. Lori, however, hasn't been charged with a crime, even though she was doing the same things at the same place at the same time as the men who have become reluctant martyrs in a fight to legalize homosexuality in Missouri, one of four states that still have laws banning gay sex.
Whereas the cities of St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City have anti-discrimination ordinances, homosexuals elsewhere in the state may be denied housing or jobs on the basis of their sexual orientation. Even though no one in Missouri has been prosecuted for having same-gender sex in a private bedroom, a law decreeing that gay sex is illegal is a big hurdle, says Denise D. Lieberman, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri. "There's a lot of important reasons for that law to be struck down," she says. "It prevents us from enacting other laws promoting equality. It justifies courts' denying custody and parenting rights to gays and lesbians because they're criminals."
At least four of the men have accepted legal representation offered by the ACLU. Painful though it may be, they say they'll fight all the way to the Supreme Court if that's what it takes to make sex between consenting adults, no matter their gender, a legal act.
"I'm not a quitter," says Bill, who ventured into the theater that night and is now charged with having sex with another man. "I was raised to think if you're right, you go for it, no matter what happens." He pauses. "And, plus, I hate Jefferson County.
"I'll fight them because of everything that's been thrown in my face."
Once at the Jefferson County jail, the thirteen people who had been arrested were removed from their cells, read their Miranda rights and individually interrogated. The tenor ranged from reassuring to threatening.
"They told me, 'Look, if you cooperate, it will go away,'" Bill recalls. "'We don't want you -- we want the owners. If you don't cooperate, we're going to parade you and your family and everybody through the media and make your life a living hell."
Bill confessed, telling the cops everything he had done and seen in the theater. He says he didn't think he had a choice. "They told me they had video evidence, that one of the officers had a digital camera with him at the time," Bill recalls. "If I didn't cooperate with them, they were going to take me into court and put those videos in one after the other and just make me a fool in front of everybody that was there. I was, like, 'If you've got the video evidence, what can I say? You've got me.'"
Deputies also played tough with Lori, who is on probation for a drug-possession offense. They told her that her probation would be revoked and she'd land in prison if she didn't play ball. The threat worked.
"I was falling apart," Lori recalls. "I'm the only freaking girl there, just bawling. I told them the truth about what we witnessed." The cops pressed for more, telling her that her husband had engaged in anal intercourse and paid for sex. They also accused Lori of being a prostitute, with a pimp for a husband. (Lori's worst fear proved unfounded. Since the raid, she says, the state Department of Corrections has relaxed her probation supervision, and her probation officer has recommended that she be released from probation early.)
The booking charges looked impressive: prostitution, promoting prostitution, drug possession, sexual misconduct.
Sheriff Oliver "Glenn" Boyer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that undercover officers had been offered sex for money. The paper also quoted an unnamed county official saying that proving prostitution at Award had always been tough because the hookers didn't talk money until after sex, a laughable notion for anyone familiar with a trade in which getting paid upfront is sacrosanct.
None of the prostitution cases stuck because of a result of lack of evidence.
Despite what deputies may have said during interrogations, no owners were charged. Indeed, Chris Morse -- who managed the business with his wife, Debra -- was one of the first released from jail. According to inspection reports from the Jefferson County Health Department, the Morses also owned at least part of Award Video. The drug-possession beefs amounted to two men found with tiny amounts of pot. Both were charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession.
That left the people who were caught, quite literally, with their pants down.
Two weeks after the raid, Wilkins turned the case into a cause célèbre for Missouri's gay community by charging six men who'd been in the theater with sexual misconduct. He's almost apologetic.
"I'm perhaps more offended by the conduct of the woman who was not prosecuted," the prosecutor says. "If we could have prosecuted the woman who was there, I would have done it." But state law, Wilkins says, left him no choice.
To hear him talk, Wilkins may be the most misunderstood guy in Jefferson County.
"I'm doing the right thing, but not for the reasons people think," he says. "All the gays in the county are mad at me without knowing the facts. At the same time, the churches are happy with me, also without knowing the facts."
Wilkins isn't a Bible-thumping politician. And he swears he's not homophobic.
"A private act between consenting adults is none of my business," he says.
Photographs of Tom Eagleton and Bill Clinton hang alongside plaques from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Veterans of Foreign Wars in his office. A red lava lamp sits on a bookshelf. Wilkins, who last month ran unopposed to win a third term, has resisted calls to make obscenity cases against businesses such as Award Video. "I've never gone after the pornography in there," he says. "The local church groups are all over me for that."
When county officials have found glory holes -- waist-high openings in walls between booths, meant to facilitate anonymous sex acts -- at the county's adult-entertainment businesses, the response has been restrained. "We've written letters and said, 'You've really got to close those up,'" Wilkins says.
Wilkins may not be a foaming-at-the-mouth prude. But orgies where anyone with a hankering can just walk in won't be tolerated, not so long as he is in office. Trouble is, Missouri law isn't much help.
There's no outright ban on public sex in Missouri. The law says the conduct must be likely to cause "alarm or affront," hardly the case in an establishment where signs inside and outside make it clear that the business is all about sex. Wilkins says that's why he didn't prosecute Lori. But the law does make gay sex illegal, be it in an adult bookstore or a private bedroom. At least, Wilkins thinks so.
The state Supreme Court in 1986 upheld the law, dismissing arguments that it violated equal-protection guarantees. According to its ruling in State of Missouri vs. Walsh, criminalizing same-gender sex is fair because the law applies equally to lesbians and male homosexuals. The court also said the law was needed to prevent AIDS from spreading.
"It was a really outrageous decision," says Arlene Zarembka, a St. Louis attorney who argued the case on behalf of the ACLU. "It was so bad, I think I repressed a lot of what they wrote because it was so dismal."
Then the legislature changed the law. Today, the statute is a case of tortured grammar:
"A person commits the crime of sexual misconduct in the first degree if he has deviate sexual intercourse with another person of the same sex or he purposely subjects another person to sexual contact or engages in conduct which would constitute sexual contact except that the touching occurs through the clothing without that person's consent" (emphasis added).
Zarembka argues that the phrase "without that person's consent" must apply to the entire statute, not just the part about touching someone through their clothes. Otherwise, sex, no matter the circumstances, would be illegal in Missouri. "If it only applies to the last clause, then you have the first and second clauses becoming a crime regardless of consent," she says.
Previously the ban on gay sex stood alone in a subsection of the sexual-misconduct law, leaving no doubt that homosexuals were criminals. But legislators who were updating sex statutes eliminated the subsections and bunched everything into one sentence. During the same 1994 session (and again in 1998), lawmakers also turned down a proposal to legalize same-sex intercourse.
Only after a 1999 state appeals-court decision did it become clear that lawmakers might have inadvertently legalized homosexual sex. The case that is now cited as a landmark flew under everyone's radar. There were no amicus briefs filed by gay activists, not a peep from the ACLU. "That case kind of snuck up on us," says Jeff Wunrow, executive director of For the Personal Rights of Missourians (a.k.a. PROMO). "Once it was over, it kind of came to the attention of some of our attorneys who saw the implications there."
Activists weren't the only ones who weren't paying attention. Even Attorney General Jay Nixon, whose office handled the case, was apparently caught napping.
The case centered on whether William Henry Cogshell Jr., a Kansas City man convicted of several sexual offenses, was guilty of sexual misconduct for having sex with a thirteen-year-old boy. Cogshell didn't argue that he hadn't committed statutory sodomy, so those two felony convictions stood. But he did appeal two sexual-misconduct convictions, saying he wasn't guilty of that because the boy had consented.
John Munson Morris, the assistant attorney general who handled the case, didn't argue. "The State concedes that the trial court erred in denying the appellant's motion for judgment of acquittal ... as to the two counts of sexual misconduct," the Western District Court of Appeals ruled in a unanimous decision. "The State agrees that the evidence was insufficient to support the appellant's convictions for sexual misconduct because it did not establish that the sexual contact between the appellant and [the boy] was not consensual."
After the ruling, Nixon asked the appeals court to amend the ruling to make it clear that consent didn't apply in cases involving same-gender sex. While saying he didn't necessarily agree with the law, Nixon said it was his job to enforce the Legislature's intent, which was outlawing sex between people of the same gender. But it was too late. The court wouldn't budge, and Nixon didn't risk an appeal to the state Supreme Court, which could have decided the issue once and for all.
Nixon's office declined comment. "We're not going to make any kind of comment on legal strategy that we didn't use on that case," says spokesman Scott Holste.
Wunrow thinks the law is murky. "Various people read it different ways -- I think you can do that," he says. "I think at this point it's unclear whether or not we've got it or we don't have it."
Wilkins insists that gay sex is against the law in Missouri, even though he doesn't personally believe that homosexual acts between consenting adults in private settings should be illegal. But that's not the point.
"Our goal is not to embarrass these people or persecute anyone," Wilkins says. "But if I've got to embarrass those six people to stop that conduct, I'll do it."
As far as Wilkins is concerned, the defendants crossed a line by having sex in a room where anyone could watch or participate.
"The law is really a privacy issue, and you can't claim privacy if you're doing it in a public place," he says. "Just rent a room, for goodness' sakes. Rent a viewing room for a quarter and do it -- they could avoid this by going into a freaking booth at Award Video."
Lori and Glenn say they don't understand Wilkins' logic. After all, passersby couldn't accidentally stumble in -- anyone wishing to enter the theater knew what was going on, and they had to be buzzed in by a clerk after buying a ticket. Plus, the cops busted people throughout the store.
"They're full of crap," Lori says. "They raided the private booths, too." The couple says they don't feel free anywhere after what happened. If nothing else, Wilkins has accomplished one thing: Glenn and Lori say they've stopped swinging in adult-movie theaters. "After this, I wouldn't feel any more comfortable in a hotel than in that place," Glenn says.
Wilkins says he's concerned about the public-health implications of anonymous group sex. "In some cases, it's the government's responsibility to protect people in spite of themselves," he says. Glenn and Lori say that's ridiculous. "Everyone there was wearing a condom," Glenn says.
Wilkins has offered to reduce the charges to peace disturbance with a recommendation for suspended imposition of sentence. That way, the men won't be convicted of sexual offenses, they won't stand trial and their court records won't be open to the public. At the same time, the county could use peace-disturbance convictions as evidence if it tries to shut down the business as a public nuisance. (That point, however, may be moot. The business -- minus theaters -- has been renamed Maximus Video. A woman who identified herself as a manager wouldn't grant an interview, but a clerk says ownership and management have changed since the raid.)
"We're trying to make this go away as quietly and as quickly as possible for these people," Wilkins says. "They have to make a choice."
The defendants haven't bitten. All have pleaded not guilty. No trial date has been set.
"They're the ones who disturbed the peace, not us," Glenn says. He says he'll fight the charges out of principle. Although the court record would be closed to the public if he took the deal, what's accessible to the criminal-justice system is a different matter. Glenn says he's worried about how he might be treated if he's pulled over by a cop who does a record check and finds out about the arrest and initial charges. If the defendants take the deal, their chances of getting arrests and convictions completely expunged are nil, says Richard Sindel, attorney for the four men who have accepted ACLU representation.
Bill is also adamant. He leans forward, his voice rising.
"It's become my mission in life," he says. "I have nothing else at the moment. I'm not copping out to something else so their record can look OK and mine can look OK and everyone can say, 'No harm, no foul.'
A half-dozen guys busted in a dirty bookstore aren't the most respectable poster boys for Missouri's gay community.
"There were some people who were concerned that we shouldn't be linking ourselves or associating ourselves with this," Wunrow says. "Like it or not, these are the sorts of facts that give us the cases we need to prosecute. We certainly also believe it's the community's right to say, 'Great, but not here.' I think we can talk about it without condoning or condemning what they did."
Although she calls the defendants "brave" for fighting the charges, Lieberman makes a distinction between the defendants and gays throughout the state who could benefit if the statute is struck down.
"I'm talking about people who don't set foot in these seedy joints," she says.
Getting busted for anonymous sex in a semen-splattered room was embarrassing enough. But the media -- one television station in particular -- worsened the sting.
When the charges came down, KSDK-TV (Channel 5) broadcast the name and photograph of every defendant, including two who were charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession but no sexual offenses. News director Mike Shipley explains that his staff was just following policy of naming people who are charged with crimes, but he stops short of saying the station would do the same thing again. He recalls getting calls about the story but says he can't remember just what the callers said. "If people are arrested and charged in connection with a crime, as a rule it's our policy to report that," he says. "Might we think about it more next time? Yeah, maybe."
Competing stations ran the story without names and mug shots. Although the story is newsworthy, says Brad Remington, news director at KTVI-TV (Channel 2), he sees no merit in broadcasting names. "Under these circumstances, what would be the point?" he asks. "Maybe if the person arrested is the mayor or somebody or the police chief. That's a different matter."
Clay Hoerner of St. Louis says he received calls from several co-workers the day after the Channel 5 broadcast. Hoerner was fully clothed and sitting alone in the theater when deputies barged in. Deputies say they found a small amount of marijuana in his pocket. Charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession, Hoerner says he believes publicity cost him his job as a painter, even though his boss told him that it was a routine layoff.
"Everybody seen me," says Hoerner, who says he entered the theater about ten minutes before the raid. "Everybody I worked with seen it. They just put my name up there like I'm some kind of pervert. Now I'm associated with the sex-store scandal. It wasn't good at all. I'm sure every person in my family has seen it. You can just tell. People look at you different. You can tell when there's an awkward silence."
For Bill, the effect was devastating.
"Everybody in town knew I was being charged before I did," says Bill, who admits he made a mistake by stopping at Award that night. "My family found out through Channel 5. I have been basically excommunicated from my family. My family has a very strong belief against homosexuality. They believe it is a mental illness and one day they will come out with a pill to fix it. My father's going off on a tangent that I've ruined his reputation."
Bill faults the sheriff's department more than he does the television station.
"I can't blame the media," he says. "We're kind of standing on the same constitutional grounds that you are: freedom of speech and freedom to be who we want to be, to do what we want to do. This is America."
But Bill hasn't felt free since the bust.
"I don't leave the house," says Bill, who grew up a few miles from the store. He now regrets even taking a job at Award Video, a position that paid little more than flipping burgers. He hasn't worked since the raid. "I would like to go out and get a job, but who's going to hire me with this case hanging over my head? If I try to get a job within the community I live in, everybody knows me." Once or twice a week, he used to go with a friend to a 24-hour diner for coffee and pinball, but no more. "I walk into this diner that I go to all the time, and people down there who know me go, 'Oh, so what side of the fence are you playing now?'" Bill says. "Most of the time, I pass it off as a joke. But other people get under your skin because they won't leave you alone."
Shortly after his release from jail, Bill says, he nearly came to blows with a stranger at a gas station who overheard him talking about the arrests with the station clerk. "He was twice my size," Bill recalls. "He looked at me and said, 'So, you're one of those little faggots from Award Video. He was, like, 'I'm going to beat the shit out of you. How do you feel, you little faggot?' A friend who was with me turned around and said, 'How about I make you feel like the bitch and beat the hell out of you?' And the guy left."
Bill says the only person who's really stuck by him is his wife of nine years, who is expecting the couple's fourth child in February. Walking past a bake sale set up by a Christian school in the courthouse lobby, she accompanied him to a recent court appearance, smiling occasionally and appearing more at ease than her husband. The day after the raid, Bill says, his wife showed her moxie when she went to Award Video to retrieve the family car so she could pick him up from jail.
"A cop started giving her hell, saying, 'What do you think about your husband getting a blowjob from a man?'" Bill recalls. "And she was, like, 'Well, I don't care. It means I don't have to do it.'" The cop persisted. "He was, like, 'You don't mind if your husband goes back there and gets a blowjob from anybody?' And she's, like, 'I don't care,' of course not saying what she honestly wants to say to the cop. He was ignorant toward her and everybody else, trying to humiliate her in front of the crowd that was there."
Though his wife may put on a strong face in public, Bill says, the arrest has hurt his marriage. "She wasn't thrilled, needless to say," he says. "This has caused problems with us, but there's other issues there, too, besides this. It was like the straw that broke the camel's back."
Lori and Glenn say their arrests have both strained and strengthened their relationship.
"It's strained us in that we can't be adventurous in ways we would like," she says. Glenn finishes the thought.
"It's made us stronger in that we know we can't trust anyone but each other," he says.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department considers the raid a success.
"We enforced the law," says Major Mark Tuljetske. "The business has changed its operating procedures. It's done away with the thing that was identified as the main nuisance."
Tuljetske says the cops acted on complaints from citizens who had heard that people were having sex inside the theater. "I guess the real hardcore information started coming in a month or so before the arrests were made," he says. "That's when we started getting the information that people were having sex in the place."
But there has long been evidence that people were having sex inside Award Video and two other adult businesses in the county with theaters, private booths or both.
At the request of the sheriff's department, a Jefferson County health inspector visited three adult businesses -- including Award Video, Bobbie's Books and Dr. Video, which also has a theater -- in May and June 2000. "It's not something we do on an ongoing basis," says environmental public-health specialist Joe W. Hainline, who conducted the inspections. Having no established protocol, Hainline shined a black light in booths and the theaters in search of bodily fluid stains. The findings were no surprise to anyone who's spent more than fifteen minutes in such places. At all three businesses, Hainline found semen stains on floors, walls, chairs and video monitors, both in theaters and in private booths. Despite the findings, no one was arrested until the raid in March. And no one has been arrested since.
Tuljetske says the sheriff's department is monitoring the county's adult businesses. If they're looking for public sex, the deputies must be blind.
On a recent Saturday night at Dr. Video, the only Jefferson County adult business that still has a theater, seven men sit in plastic deck chairs, watching a woman perform oral sex on a man. Both are seated in the same kind of chairs as the audience. Her blouse and shorts are unbuttoned; he is fully clothed, with his fly open. The cement floor is sticky; the walls are covered with easy-to-wipe-clean white tiles that appear to be plastic or Formica. There is plenty of light from ceiling fixtures. The spectators remain silent and clothed. Arms folded, legs crossed, they could be taking in a Sunday-morning sermon.
The man at the center of attention says something about not wanting to climax, and so he and his partner leave. A few seconds pass. Then it becomes abundantly clear that this was not an isolated instance. "They were sure better than the last couple," someone says, prompting a few chuckles and nods. Save for grunts and moans from the big screen, the room falls silent as the wait for more live action begins.
The theater is nearly as crowded at 2 a.m. on the following Monday. This time, there are no couples. Some of the men rub their crotches as they watch the screen. Others are more blatant.
There are two rooms the size of walk-in closets at the back of the theater, each equipped with darkly tinted windows. The doors to both are open, revealing masturbating men -- one in each room -- who occasionally peer out, as if they're expecting company. The theater is in the basement, and whenever the door opens at the top of the stairs, everyone looks toward the entrance, where signs warn that the premises are subject to surprise inspection by law enforcement.
A newcomer sits down and tries striking up a conversation with the man next to him, commenting on the abilities of the performers on the video. He is met with silence. After a few minutes, the newcomer walks into one of the closet-sized rooms, where he is welcomed. The pair leaves the door ajar -- just enough to conceal them from other men in the theater but not enough to prevent the curious from walking up and peeking inside. No one is curious. They are left undisturbed for at least twenty minutes.
Tuljetske says he isn't surprised that people are still having sex in the county's adult businesses. Even though the prosecutor says he can't charge heterosexuals who have sex in a setting where no one would be shocked, Tuljetske sees matters differently. He also sees a distinction between group sex and sex between a couple.
"If you have two people who are consenting adults doing something together, it's different than if you told me that the woman was going from guy to guy to guy," Tuljetske says.
Why, given that everyone would presumably be consenting?
"Technically, yes," the major answers. "But there's a thing about the group thing ... in a public place. The consent would not only have to come from everybody involved but everybody witnessing. This is the same deal that we ran into in what used to be Award Video."
Bottom line, Tuljetske says, the couple would have been arrested if an officer had been present because the officer would not be a consenting witness. If only men were involved, Tuljetske says, deputies would consider more than the consent question. "We would look at other issues, health-department violations, things like that," he says.
Tuljetske won't say whether deputies have witnessed sex acts in businesses other than Award Video.
"That's an ongoing investigation," he says. "We have not made a case yet. We're still working on it and will continue to work on it.
"And if it's going on, people are going to go to jail."