Adult-store worker told to pay in dispute Judge orders reimbursement after protest at Pack Shack

October 17, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

A Howard County district judge has ordered an employee of an adult video and magazine store in Ellicott City to reimburse a local man for the destruction of two signs protesting the business.

Judge Neil E. Axel sentenced Calvin B. Maddox, 29, to probation before judgment Wednesday for destruction of property. Axel ordered Maddox, who works for the Pack Shack on U.S. 40, to pay $40 to Franklin V. Goodridge Jr.

"I was relieved that the truth set us free," said Goodridge, leader of Men Against Pornography, a group whose members have demonstrated almost daily in front of the Pack Shack since the store opened in April. "That's one for us and zero for them."

But Howard J. Schulman, Maddox's attorney, pointed out that the sentence means his client will have no criminal record.

"His contention was that he did nothing more than bend some abandoned signs," Schulman said. "The judge split the baby in half on this hot issue."

The decision stems from a July 21 incident outside the business. Goodridge said that about 11: 30 p.m., he and another member of Men Against Pornography were demonstrating outside the Pack Shack when Maddox stormed out of the store and crossed the service road to the median strip where the group gathers.

Goodridge said Maddox began pulling the group's signs and banners out of the ground. When Goodridge confronted Maddox and tore the signs out of his hands, Maddox accused Goodridge of assaulting him and walked back to the store.

Goodridge said that about five minutes later, Maddox returned, grabbed two signs -- valued at $20 each -- and broke them in half over his knee. County police officers then arrived, and the incident ended.

Goodridge said that during the four-hour trial, he presented a videotape -- shot by a fellow protester -- showing Maddox destroying the signs.

"That was the turning point for us because it showed the employee destroying my private property," Goodridge said. "I'm glad we had the camera out there."

But Schulman said his client had a different account of what happened to the signs.

"Mr. Maddox's contention was that they had been abandoned by Mr. Goodridge," Schulman said. "Mr. Maddox's contention was that Mr. Goodridge had left the scene and left the signs there."

The incident is only one of the legal battles between the store and Goodridge.

In August, the store's owners filed a lawsuit against Goodridge in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, asserting that his group's almost daily demonstrations violated the store's First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.

Goodridge countersued in September, arguing that the suit has no basis because the demonstrations he organizes outside the business are lawful and on public property, and that the suit targets him because he is an outspoken anti-pornography activist.

Sidney S. Friedman, Goodridge's attorney, said he expects a hearing before a federal judge next year.

The presence of the Pack Shack has also spurred officials into action. On Monday, the County Council will hold a public hearing on legislation that would restrict sexually oriented stores to property zoned for business and would require them to be at least 200 feet from residences and at least 1,000 feet from another adult store.

If the legislation is approved during a Nov. 3 vote, County Council members say the Pack Shack would be forced to close and relocate because it is less than 200 feet from an apartment complex.

Howard's other such store, Adult Video & Books on U.S. 1 in Elkridge, also would have to close because it is in an area zoned for manufacturing, they said.

Pub Date: 10/17/97

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