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Protest greets Unity adult bookstore's reopening

| Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Protesters gather outside of the newly opened Love Toys shop along route 30 on January 26, 2013 in Unity Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

Despite the snow and cold weather, a Unity Township church group held a “grand opening” protest on Saturday in opposition to the reopening of an adult bookstore along Route 30 in Unity.

”We want to get this place shut down. Promoting pornography destroys families. We just really believe it is against God's truth, it ruins families, it breeds adultery,” said Mike Rager of Latrobe, one of about 25 members of the Living Hope Church in Whitney.

Standing along Route 30 right of way in front of the adult bookstore, members of the group held signs, such as “Pornography Hurts Women” and “Godly Men Do Not Exploit Women” during an hourlong protest.

A bookstore representative declined to comment on the demonstrators.

The bookstore, owned by Bargain Sales Inc. of Allentown, had received a permit to occupy the 3,400-square-foot structure that opened on the same site where a previous adult bookstore was destroyed in a June 2011 arson by one of its employees, Joseph A. Pahel of Latrobe.

Pahel confessed to stealing $300 from the store and setting it afire to cover the theft. He was sentenced in Westmoreland County Court to two to four years on arson and criminal mischief charges.

Unity Township officials said the township could not prevent the bookstore from reopening because it was considered a continuing use that had been disrupted by the fire. Although the township has designated other areas in Unity for adult bookstores, the bookstore was at the site prior to zoning in Unity.

The group had protested the adult bookstore when it was operating prior to the arson.

One of those protesters who had joined protests in the previous bookstore, Marta Neff of Southwest Greensburg, said she returned to join the other protesters because pornography is very destructive.

“It destroys anyone who is involved,” Neff said.

A fellow protester, Tina Stephens of Latrobe, said pornography is part of the problem of sexual addiction.

“Places like this don't help,” Stephens said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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