City to drop obscenity case against Abercrombie & Fitch

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A city official says charges will be dropped in an
incident involving posters of scantily clad men and a woman at an Abercrombie
& Fitch store.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. said authorities overreacted Feb. 2 when they confiscated two display photographs and cited the store manager on a misdemeanor obscenity charge.

“The marketing images in question show less skin than you see any summer day
at the beach. And certainly less than the plumber working on your kitchen sink,”
the company, based in New Albany, Ohio, said in a statement.

One photograph showed three shirtless young men, with one man's upper
buttocks showing. The other image was of a woman whose breast was mostly
exposed, authorities said.

Deputy City Attorney Mark Stiles said the charge would be dropped even though
the photos might technically meet the nudity portion of city code that makes it
a crime to display “obscene materials in a business that is open to juveniles.”

But he said it would be difficult to meet the other standards of the law:
that the display had to appeal to prurient interests, lack redeeming artistic
merit and be offensive to prevailing community standards.

“You might see that typical vision walking down a street,” Stiles said of the
photo with the men.

Virginia Beach police issued the summons after Abercrombie management did not
heed warnings to remove the images from the Lynnhaven Mall store after some
customers complained, police spokesman Adam Bernstein said.

The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk reported on that in the Feb. 2 incident a police officer had issued the store manager, whom the newspaper identified as Brendon Payne, “a summons to appear March 3 in General District Court.” The newspaper said the city attorney would “recommend dropping the charges at that time,” and that police said they would return the posters to the
Abercrombie & Fitch store.

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