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Group files petition seeking grand jury for statue

Published on -9/5/2012, 10:18 AM

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) -- A group that believes a sculpture of a partially clad woman should be removed from an arboretum in a Kansas City suburb has filed a petition asking a grand jury to determine if the statue violates anti-obscenity laws.

The American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri contends a sculpture, "Accept or Reject," in the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens violates a state law against promoting obscenity to children. On Tuesday, the group turned in petitions with about 4,700 signatures to Johnson County officials, said Phillip Crosby, director of the group.

The group needed just under 3,700 valid signatures, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/NLTPNq ).

Mike McLain, Johnson County court administrator, said a copy of the petition will be sent to the Johnson County Election Commission to verify the signatures. If enough signatures are valid, the petition will be returned to the court and assigned to one of the court's civil judges, who will oversee the grand jury.

Johnson County will have 60 days to empanel the jury after the signatures are verified.

The sculpture, by Yu Chang, is among 11 artworks donated to the arboretum by a group of Chinese artists. The life-size bronze, on display at the arboretum since November 2011, shows a woman wearing an opened blouse, her breasts exposed, taking a picture of herself.

Overland Park officials have said they do not intend to remove or relocate the sculpture from the arboretum. Two signs have been posted near the site telling visitors that "some pieces include a display of the human body."

"This has been a process to get the city of Overland Park, the council, to listen to the grievances about this sexting statue," Cosby said. "Fortunately, Kansas does have a tool by which the citizens can have their day in court when those in a position of power become indifferent to the law."

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said "grand juries are unique in that the presiding juror speaks on behalf of the rest of the jury and controls what evidence they want to hear." That would include whether the petitioners are allowed to present evidence, The Star reported.

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