County Attorney Ryan Encourages Awareness  Of Revised Sexually Oriented Business Regulations

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan.

A revised Harris County ordinance regulating Sexually Oriented Businesses (SOB’s) went into effect January 1, 2019, and will apply to areas of unincorporated Harris County.

The regulations include additional sections on prohibited conduct by employees, contractors and customers of SOB’s. Among the revisions is a specific prohibition against using “an anthropomorphic device or object”—a so-called sex robot—for sexual activities in a business. The ordinance has also been rearranged into sections based on SOB type to make reading and enforcement easier.

“I strongly encourage employees, contractors and customers of SOB’s to be aware of the changes to the Harris County regulations,” County Attorney Ryan said.  “These businesses can attract crime and can be havens for human trafficking of minors and adults. These revisions will allow law enforcement to better protect our community.”

The County Attorney’s Office created separate sections with new definitions and requirements for adult motels, adult cabarets and adult cabaret entertainers, and adult bookstores, theaters and arcades. The Adult Arcade definition now includes businesses where the public is invited to interact with a device or object, including an anthropomorphic device or object designed for one or many persons to engage in specified sexual activities. This activity with a “sex robot” is prohibited.

It will also be a violation of the regulations if three or more of the following offenses occur within a 365-day period in the SOB: prostitution, compelling prostitution, employing a minor, human trafficking or sexual conduct or performance by a child.

An additional new section will require all SOB’s to post a sign containing educational information regarding human trafficking, including the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Click here to view the regulations.