Adam & Eve Remembers Raid on 25th Anniversary

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C.—Given Adam & Eve’s standing as a responsible corporate citizen, it’s hard to imagine now, but 25 years ago this week, the then small but thriving mail order company was raided by 37 armed law enforcement agents.

On May 29, 1986, and backed by the Reagan administration’s Meese Commission, prosecutors declared Adam & Eve president Phil Harvey a peddler of obscenity. The surprise raid, in which 118 employees were detained, searched, subpoenaed and held for questioning, yielded no evidence of illegal activity. It did, however, lead to eight years of legal battles, nearly a million dollars in legal fees and historical changes in the justice system itself.

Harvey wrote about the raid extensively in his 2001 book The Government vs. Erotica: The Siege of Adam and Eve.

A lot has changed since the raid of 1986, but many longtime Adam & Eve employees remember the fear surrounding the events that took place that day.

Peg Eaton, who has been with the company 30 years, recalls it this way: “It was a scary event…very intimidating. The officers searched our pocketbooks and briefcases and took our pictures. When I told the agent I didn’t want my picture taken, he said they could come to my house to get a picture. They wouldn’t even let our attorney into the building to talk to us.”

Adam & Eve marketing director Cindy Lutz remembers the solidarity she felt, standing side-by-side with co-workers over the copy machines they rented so that authorities wouldn’t take the only copies of company records after the raid. “I had a tremendous faith that we weren’t doing anything wrong,” she says.

Vice President of Adam & Eve, David Groves, says, “It was a horrible ordeal for the employees. After being searched, interrogated and subpoenaed, a lot of people went home scared to death…afraid they’d be arrested and lose their jobs. But when they came to work the next day—and almost everyone did—that fear turned to anger. They wanted to fight back.”

Today, Adam & Eve is recognized as a leader in adult business. Along with its respected product review process and involvement with noted sex therapists, Adam & Eve employs 375 at its headquarters in the Meadowlands Business Park in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Despite the government’s attempts to shut it down, Adam & Eve has grown and flourished.

The company recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, and has received numerous national and international awards, including being named “Business of the Year” by the local Chamber of Commerce in 2005.