A self-described romance store is suing the village of Cahokia for the right to open a location on Camp Jackson Road.
Doctor John’s Lingerie and Novelty Boutiques filed a lawsuit Friday against the village of Cahokia. The suit alleges the city deprived the owners of their “rights, privileges and immunities provided by the Constitution” when Cahokia officials passed a new ordinance on “adult businesses” — after the boutique applied for a business license to open a store at 1411 Camp Jackson Road.
Cahokia Mayor Curtis McCall and Cahokia city attorney Clay St. Clair did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ordinance “practically prohibited (Doctor John’s) from locating in any area of the city where customers may find and patronize it,” according to the lawsuit.
Doctor John’s attorney Andrew McCullough said the city, if it wants to prohibit the store from opening, has to prove the store will bring negative secondary effects — like prostitution or theft, or lower property values.
McCullough argues that Doctor John’s isn’t an adult store and doesn’t bring negative effects.
McCullough’s fought similar legal battles in seven cities to allow Doctor John’s to open a store in each town, including a recent suit in Collinsville.
“(People) like to describe adult stores as places populated by men in trench coats who maybe go into dark corners in the back and fondle themselves and attract a bad crowd,” McCullough said. “But the people who shop at our store are a majority women and couples. Men do not come in here looking for cheap thrills. We don’t sell cheap thrills.”
Doctor John’s calls itself a romance store — not a sex shop or an adult bookstore or video store.
“Certainly there are communities that say, ‘We don’t want this,’” McCullough said. “We say, ‘Don’t come visit us if you don’t want to.’ We aren’t going to harm you.”
Doctor John’s has a location in Wood River, and McCullough said the city had no argument against the business opening there. But in other cities, ordinances have been put in place that try to force the business into the warehouse district or make it flat-out impossible to open.
“It’s a national sort of movement toward censorship,” McCullough said. “It isn’t just Doctor John’s.”
Kara Berg: 618-239-2626, @karaberg95