Court OKs NYC Sex Shop Crackdown

A federal appeals court Wednesday gave the city the go-ahead to begin shutting down porn businesses in most parts of the city, rejecting a motion from strip clubs and X-rated shops that had hoped to delay the crackdown.

"We can enforce," said Leonard Koerner, lead attorney on the case for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's administration. "There wasn't any merit" to a delay, Koerner said.

A clerk at the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed an order had been issued denying the strip clubs' appeal.

The city will need to send inspectors to each of the more than 150 clubs, massage parlors, and video stores affected before orders can be issued to close them, city lawyers said.

Meanwhile, an attorney for the clubs said he had filed papers with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking an emergency order to block enforcement.

Under the zoning changes, approved in 1995 but not enforced so far, sex-oriented theaters, bookstores, massage parlors, and dance clubs are banned from operating within 500 feet of homes, churches, schools or each other. Effectively, virtually all adult stores would be forced to move to industrial areas of the city.

City officials said that stores whose stock is 40 percent or more pornography would be considered sex-oriented. Some stores were attempting to meet that requirement by adding T-shirts, souvenirs and family-friendly videos to their X-rated fare.

By Michael Blood