Columbus strip club bust underscores need for CDA

This says it all!

On Wednesday of this week, March 28, the Blue Moose Bar & Club Allure had planned a special VIP party for some of their prominent customers.

The fully nude strip club is located on the south side of Columbus, across from Berliner Park, a popular family destination.

The VIP party was abruptly cancelled, though, when some uninvited guests appeared.  Dozens of uniformed and undercover officers from the Columbus Police Department , armed with a search warrant, raided the club.

One by one, employees of the club were led away in handcuffs and taken to the Franklin County jail – on charges of prostitution and drug trafficking.

A Franklin County environmental court judge had issued a temporary nuisance abatement in order to close the business, at least until a hearing could be held on March 7.  By Thursday morning, city workers were to have boarded up all windows and locked all doors.

The raid and arrests were the culmination of a four-month undercover investigation triggered by the report of a parent of one employee.

Said Columbus Police Department Sgt. Stan Latta, “We basically have prostitution and drug sales taking place within the bar.”  He cited narcotics transactions involving drugs like crack, ecstasy and powdered cocaine.

This bust dramatically and sadly illustrates why we must have certain basic, uniform regulations in place to curb the crimes linked to such businesses on a statewide basis.

Prostitution and illegal drug sales are at the top of the list of serious crimes, which numerous government studies link to strip clubs and other sexually oriented businesses.

Not far from Berliner Park and the Allure Club – in the Ohio Statehouse – sits a bill that would greatly reduce these crimes.

Over 220,000 Ohio citizens signed an “initiative petition” to guarantee that the Ohio 127th General Assembly would consider that bill, the Community Defense Act (CDA). It consists of two straightforward regulations that would apply to all sex businesses in Ohio.

One regulation would require that all sex businesses cease to operate between the hours of Midnight and 6:00 am, the time during which law enforcement officials state most of the criminal activity takes place.

The other would require that a six-foot distance be kept between nude or semi-nude employees and patrons, a regulation specifically targeting prostitution.

What was going on behind the doors of Club Allure in Columbus was not unusual.  All that was unusual was the tip, the investigation, and the raid.  Similar criminal activity occurs in most strip clubs and in many other types of sexually oriented businesses.  And there are over 100 adult businesses in Franklin County alone!

Further, the devastation goes deeper than those documented crimes.  Less well documented, but undeniable and equally deleterious to Ohio’s communities are the adverse effects that sexually oriented businesses too often have on the marriages and families of those who frequent them.

We believe that the majority of our state legislators understand that the devastation brought to our families and communities by sexually oriented businesses creates a compelling state interest to establish the two common-sense, Constitutionally-sound and court-tested regulations of CDA on a statewide basis.

But time is of the essence.

Legislation proposed to the General Assembly by initiative petition of electors must be acted on within four months.  In the case of CDA, that means that unless CDA has been passed into law by our Legislature by May 2, we will have to collect an additional set of signatures in order to place CDA on a ballot for popular vote.

Please contact the representative and senator from your district once again to encourage them to do everything within their power to expedite passage of this important family legislation.