Horry County Solicitor trying to close adult book store; four more businesses on his radar

Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson is working to close an area adult bookstore and has plans to address lewd and unlawful behavior suspected at four more area establishments in an attempt to clean up area businesses.

Richardson filed a petition for temporary injunction this week against Airport Express Video, its parent company K&T Holdings LLC and owner Kelvin Lewis claiming lewd behavior occurs at the adult bookstore and it should close down temporarily until a judge can hear the case.

“We filed against Airport Express the first thing that we did was send them a letter to abate the nuisance,” Richardson said. “We followed that up with a petition. If granted, that would result in a temporary injunction.”

A date has not been set for Master-in-Equity Cynthia Howe to hear the petition. The book store at 4947 U.S. 17 Bypass South remains open for business.

Lewis could not be reached for comment.

Horry County Council spent most of 2013 crafting an adult business ordinance to crack down on reported sexual activity in adult book and video stores as well as redefining semi-nudity to keep the exposed female breast off the stages and in private rooms at gentlemen’s clubs.

Richardson said this petition has nothing to do with the adult ordinance statute, but it did prompt keeping a closer watch on the businesses by his office.

“We’re not relying on that at all,” Richardson said. “We’re relying on the nuisance part. However that did kick up some dust and had residents expressing their concern and the police express their concern. It appears the residents and police are all on board with this, and you need both for public nuisance.”

In March 2013, Richardson was granted a temporary injunction to close down Celebrations, a novelty store, in Little River, after investigations and interviews showed drug activity and sexual acts being performed there.

“At this point, we’ve been very successful with the burden of proof,” he said.

And Richardson promises his office does not intend to stop at Airport Express.

“There’s certainly more to come,” Richardson said. “What’s happened is it’s so much easier to go under a civil remedy to close doors because the standard is so low. The standard is basically a preponderance of the evidence - 51 percent. For a prosecutor, everything that you look at is beyond a reasonable doubt, or maybe 85 or 90 percent. So the standard is just so low and so effective.

“I never want to get into a situation where we’re abusing this. But, I also don’t want store owners, which are the minority, that don’t play by the rules. The biggest majority of store owners are very supportive. They don’t want this around the community.”

Richardson would not elaborate on which businesses he will send letters to next, but there are some on his radar.

“There definitely are four more,” he said. “Two of them involve lewdness, two of them would be under a public nuisance.”

The public nuisance claims Richardson said have to do with excessive calls to police for gun issues and drugs.

“I’ve just taken a more aggressive approach on the civil side of it, because it is really, really effective and it’s pretty easy to do,” Richardson said. “Four places closed would make a tremendous difference.”