Minneapolis city officials have withdrawn a citation issued to Smitten Kitten after a group of Gaia Democratic School students were taken to the adult novelty store on a field trip in late May.
Joel Fussy, assistant Minneapolis city attorney, said in a letter that the retailer is in compliance with all zoning requirements and the city has canceled a citation for the licensing violation.
The reversal came after Smitten Kitten attorney Davis Senseman argued that the city licensing department had no jurisdiction to give the violation because the store does not have, and is not required to have, an adult business license.
Owner Jennifer Pritchett said she has a “feeling of vindication,” but that it “in no way meaningfully makes up for the pain caused” by the citation.
The scrutiny of Smitten Kitten came after a teacher from Gaia Democratic School brought about a dozen sex education students, some as young as 11, to the store for a field trip. Several of the parents were outraged and are calling for the leader of the small private school, Starri Hedges, to be fired. Hedges led the field trip and has defended the outing even as criticism intensified.
After reports about the field trip surfaced, the city sent inspectors to the Uptown shop. Inspectors found that the store did not isolate sexually explicit materials in a separate section of the shop. The store also had sexually explicit materials within view of minors, which inspectors said was a violation. The citation required corrective action, but no fines.
“The citation should have never been issued,” Senseman said. “The owner and employees are dealing with stigmatization of people thinking that they did something wrong.”
Along with selling sex toys, condoms, leather products and DVDs, the store offers workshops similar to one the students took part in.
Pritchett, Smitten Kitten’s owner, said in a statement that withdrawing the citation does not rectify the backlash they have received.
She said notice of the violation was offensive to “the great community of people who have for over a decade found safety, information and support for their own empowerment and sexual health and wellness through the products and services we offer.”