[UPDATED with Judge Letting Shop to Stay If ...:] The Naughty Teddy vs. Fullerton Prudes
UPDATE, MAY 18, 10:36 A.M.: Orange County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey T. Glass told owners of the Naughty Teddy Monday that they may remain in their downtown Fullerton location as long as the shop stays in compliance with local zoning laws.
That's no problem, the store's owners and lawyer responded, because they maintain the Naughty Teddy has always been in compliance.
In any event, it's one case down and one to go: the criminal complaint against the shop owners is scheduled to be heard Monday.
UPDATE, MAY 12, 5:47 P.M.: The dispute between the Naughty Teddy and city of Fullerton has been resolved.
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As part of the city's civil case against the purveyor of lingerie, costumes and adult toys, terms of an injunction that, if violated, could have kept the downtown Fullerton store's doors closed have been satisfied, according to Elena Gerli, a lawyer representing the city (and not pictured at right).
A separate criminal case brought by the city against the shop's owners remains, however.
Let us first get civil: under city code, if more than 25 percent of a merchant's products are adult in nature, that's an adult business. Adult businesses are banned in much of Fullerton, certainly in the downtown, and especially at 129 W. Commonwealth Ave., the address of the Naughty Teddy.
City inspectors visited the store, deemed more than 25 percent of the products on shelves as adult and filed for an injunction to close the Naughty Teddy until it complied. Here's where things get murky. Lawyer Roger Jon Diamond, who represents the store and many adult businesses in Orange County, reportedly tells AVN he filed motions approved by the judge that found products like massage oils and see-through lingerie are not adult-only because non-adult retailers hawk them. With products like those in the non-adult fold, less than 25 percent of the Naughty Teddy offerings are agreed-upon adult (toys and the like), so the store met the city threshold, the lawyer claimed.
But store co-owner Dawn Aquino reportedly tells the Orange County Register the store always was in compliance, that it only appeared more than 25 percent were adult products because after first opening she had them sprinkled throughout the store. The saving grace, she reportedly said, was her redesign of the interior--essentially shoving all the adult products in a corner, where it was obvious they only took up a small portion of what's sold inside.
Gerli tells the Weekly that was not the case, however. She says more than a third of the products on store shelves were adult--and vowed to have the documents and photographs proving it. When many products were removed and placed in a small corner space, the store met the terms of the injunction, Gerli claimed.
But what of the alleged crime? Gerli said that case was pursued separately by another lawyer in her office. It alleges that Aquino and co-owner Lanny Cohen misrepresented what the Naughty Teddy was when they acquired a city business license.
As far as the city is concerned, that case is moving forward.
UPDATE, MARCH 16, 8:16 A.M.: An Orange County Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of the city of Fullerton proceeding with its misdemeanor criminal case against the Naughty Teddy. In July 2010, two months after the shop opened at 129 W. Commonwealth Ave., owner Dawn Aquino was charged with lying to get a city business license, while she and co-owner Lanny Cohen were also accused of operating an adult store in an area not properly zoned for it.
The shop owners, through their attorney, veteran adult-industry defender Roger Jon Diamond, had filed a three-part motion seeking to dismiss the case because the city's adult-business-license permit process is too lengthy, unconstitutionally vague and nearly impossible to get.
But Superior Court Judge Nicholas S. Thompson of the Fullerton North Justice Center denied the motions, calling them "too much of a leap and too speculative."
According to a post by Kimberly Wolfe, who covers Fullerton for Examiner.com, the Naughty Teddy will apply for an adult-use permit so Diamond can argue against the store's need for it. The owners claim it is not an adult business and the shop has never even been visited by cops.
Well, at least not in uniform.
In a bit of comedy that ends Wolfe's post, liberal Democrat Diamond sounds like a libertarian Orange County Register editorial-page writer.
"It's hard in California to start a business," Diamond reportedly says. "Government regulations are strangling our society."
ORIGINAL POST, JAN. 12, 8:08 A.M.: Most of Dan Miller's story on a 7-month-old store in Fullerton is rather blasé. The Naughty Teddy at 129 W. Commonwealth Ave. hawks lingerie mostly, fulfilling a desire Anaheim native Dawn Aquino had to start a new career after leaving her tax-filing business.
But about three-quarters into the piece, it's clear all is not well in Naughty Teddyland. While sexy undies and sleepwear account for 75 percent of what's on the shop's shelves, the other 25 percent is devoted to sex toys, lubes and DVDs. Miller's article is not for the Orange County Business Journal, but rather XBIZ.com, an adult-industry news service.
Shop until you bop.The Naughty Teddy has apparently drawn a steady stream of customers, from couples and women who would not dare to enter Spanky's to exotic dancers and students from Fullerton College and Cal State Fullerton. It's also apparently drawn the ire of uptight city fathers and mamas. Writes Miller:
While the store has blended in seamlessly with neighboring businesses since it opened on May 7, its presence has not come without some backlash from the conservative-leaning city of Fullerton, which has determined the Naughty Teddy should be classified as an adult business, rather than a clothing store with accessories.
The store has enlisted the services of attorney Roger Jon Diamond, who has represented many adult businesses that have clashed with Orange County municipalities. City Hall threats are tracked on SaveTheNaughtyTeddy.org.
But other than friction from the city, it's been no big whoop, Aquino tells Miller:
"It's been challenging, but we've had great support," Aquino said. "We haven't had any problems, nobody's picketed. Nobody has damaged the building. Nothing really bad has happened."
She continued, "Nobody's come in and actually said anything. We are right down the street from the police department."
Insert your own built-in-S&M-bondage-gear-customer-base joke here.
The piece goes on to reveal the Naughty Teddy is trying to be a good community neighbor by regularly participating in charitable causes, including an AIDS Walk, Toys for Tots and Orange County Gay Pride. The store's next "Rocky Horror Picture Show Night," which raises money for breast-cancer research, is scheduled from midnight until 3 a.m. Jan. 23-24 at the store.