“Lights! Camera! Career!”
That’s how Movie Gallery, one of the nation’s largest video store chains, advertises its job opportunities online, seeking people who are “dedicated, enthusiastic movie buffs that are committed to teamwork and providing excellent customer service.”
Only, doing your job at Movie Gallery could get you arrested.
Recently, an 18-year-old Movie Gallery store clerk in West Point, Miss., was charged with violating Mississippi obscenity statute 97-29-101, “distribution of obscene materials,” for doing her job – renting a video to a customer. The “customer” in this case was a police undercover agent, and the video was an X-rated sex movie.
On April 17, an undercover agent for the West Point (Miss.) Police Department “entered the Movie Gallery to rent a pornographic video,” wrote the agent in his investigation report, “with the intent to prosecute the Cashier/Corporation for violation of MS [Mississippi] Code at a later date.”
After finding his way to the back of the store, the agent approached the “Adult Gallery,” noting on his report the sign requiring that “you must be 21 or older to enter, valid ID required.” Except, added the agent, “at no time before or after I entered the room was I asked for my ID.”
Perusing the goods and selecting a tape with an extremely explicit sexual title, the undercover agent “then returned to the counter with the tape in hand” and rented it, he wrote in his report, a copy of which was obtained by WorldNetDaily.
Then on May 22, the 18-year-old girl, whose mother asked that the family name be withheld from this report, was cited at her home for “willfully and unlawfully distribut[ing] obscene material to [agent's name withheld by request] by renting him a XXX rated adult video entitled [obscene title] in violation of Section 97-29-101 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 …” according to the citation from the Clay County Municipal Court.
An informed source within the West Point Police Department confirmed to WND that “Movie Gallery is breaking the laws of the state of Mississippi by their renting of pornographic videos.”
The girl’s plight – and her employer’s culpability – were first brought to light by the American Family Association, a national pro-family organization. AFA, which over the years has orchestrated numerous successful boycotts of corporations exhibiting anti-family practices or agendas, is at it again – this time conducting a campaign to persuade Movie Gallery to remove hard-core pornographic movies from its stores.
But why was an 18-year-old employee, doing the job she was hired to do, arrested instead of the management or ownership of Movie Gallery?
“The problem,” explains Randy Sharp,
AFA’s director of special projects, is that “local and state laws hold store clerks accountable for renting and selling obscene material even when they’re just doing their job.”
State obscenity law implicates the “person” responsible for distributing obscene materials, but doesn’t define “person.” Although most states include within the definition of “person” a corporation – the city prosecutor evidently defined person as the cashier, said Sharp. West Point police sources corroborated this explanation.
Movie Gallery, Inc. currently owns and operates over 1,000 video specialty retail stores located in 32 states, according to its website. “The Company is among the three largest video specialty retailers in the United States and is the leading provider of video and video game rental and sales in rural and secondary markets in the United States. Movie Gallery’s stock trades on the NASDAQ National Market System under the symbol MOVI.”
With its corporate headquarters in Dothan, Ala., the video company’s website boasts that “its growth in the last five years has been monumental and that growth is continuing.”
The “Movie Gallery family,” adds the video giant, “consists of Movie Gallery, Inc., a publicly traded corporation, and its wholly owned subsidiaries, M.G.A., Inc. and MovieGallery.com, Inc. M.G.A., Inc. currently owns and operates over 1,000 video specialty retail stores in 32 states.”
“Come take a look,” the company invites prospective employees online. “We think that you’ll like what you see!”
But the American Family Association doesn’t like what it sees. In fact, said Sharp, “Movie Gallery has thousands of employees who are at risk of being arrested for breaking obscenity laws. They can face jail time or large fines when local prosecutors enforce the law.”
The arrested girl’s mother says, “I want my daughter’s name cleared,” adding that her daughter “never would have gone in that direction” had she known the legal dangers of working in a store that routinely broke Mississippi law. “She was just an 18-year-old young lady wanting to make some extra spending money while she goes to college,” her mother added.
WND tried unsuccessfully to reach Joe Malugen, chairman of Movie Gallery, for comment.