February 19, 2014 at 1:00 am

Utah mom takes stand against mall's 'indecent' T-shirts

Judy Cox holdf a stack of T-shirts with what she believes are pornographic designs. Cox purchased the entire stock of T-shirts for $567 from the PacSun store in Orem believing their display broke Orem's decency code. (Mark Johnston / AP)

Salt Lake City —A mother upset about “indecent” T-shirts on display at a Utah mall found a quick if not especially convenient way to remove them: She bought every last one.

Judy Cox and her 18-year-old son were shopping Saturday at the University Mall in Orem, about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, when she saw the shirts in the window of a PacSun store.

The shirts featured pictures of scantily dressed models in provocative poses.

Cox said she complained about the window display to a store manager and was told the T-shirts couldn’t be taken down without approval from the corporate office. She then bought all 19 T-shirts in stock, for a total of $567. She says she plans to return them later, toward the end of the chain store’s 60-day return period.

The shirts cost about $28 each on the website for PacSun, which sells beach clothes for teenagers and young adults.

“These shirts clearly cross a boundary that is continually being pushed on our children in images on the Internet, television and when our families shop in the mall,” Cox said in an email to the Associated Press.

She said she plans to meet with Orem’s city attorney Tuesday to discuss whether the images on the T-shirts violate city code.

The story was first reported by the Daily Herald of Provo.

PacSun CEO Gary Schoenfeld said in an emailed statement the company takes pride in the clothes and products it sells, which are inspired by music, art, fashion and action sports.

Orem is a city of about 90,000 in ultraconservative Utah County that uses the motto “Family City USA.” Most residents belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which frowns on pornography and encourages its youth to dress and act modestly.

City code prohibits anyone from putting “explicit sexual material” on public display. The city defines that as “any material that appeals to a prurient interest in sex and depicts nudity, actual or simulated sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse.”

The Orem city attorney wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Cox said she wants her actions to make clear that these types of images are not acceptable for public display.

“I hope my efforts will inspire others to speak up within their communities,” Cox said in an email. “You don’t have to purchase $600 worth of T-shirts, but you can express your concerns to businesses and corporations who promote the display of pornography to children.”

Longtime mall manager Rob Kallas said this is the first time he’s received complaints about PacSun.

PacSun has 600 stores across the United States, including in Ann Arbor, Taylor, Westland, Novi, Sterling Heights, Troy and Auburn Hills, the company’s website shows.