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Brea Bennett at Twistys

August 01, 2001 03:03pm
Great News From Tampa - Judge Throws Out Lap Dance Cases
Source: Letters to the Editor
by: Lyda Longa

(TAMPA, FL) -- A judge today dismissed more than 30 cases brought under Tampa's lap dance ban, the first successful constitutional challenge of the controversial ordinance. County Judge Elvin Martinez sided with defense arguments that the ban violates the First Amendment rights of nude dancers, who are required to stay six feet away from customers.

Other county judges have found that the ban does not violate the rights of dancers. Juries convicted two dancers last week, the first time jurors had weighed in on the ordinance. One jury panel, however, said later that the ordinance is a waste of police power.

The ordinance:
Code Of Ordinances Chapter 14 Offenses* Article II.
Miscellaneous Offenses Division 9.
Adult Use Entertainer Distance Separation Requirement Sec. 14-146.
Legislative findings, intent and purpose
(f) City of Tampa hereby finds numerous courts have consistently held that municipal and county ordinances that require a mandatory distance of at least six (6) feet between adult entertainers and other entertainers and patrons of adult uses are constitutional; and (g) The City of Tampa hereby asserts that the following purposes of the adult use entertainer distance separation requirements set forth herein are matters of legitimate, substantial and compelling governmental interests: (1) To protect adult entertainers from exposure to diseases transmitted by physical contact of a sexual nature; and (2) To protect adult use patrons from exposure to diseases transmitted by physical contact of a sexual nature; and (3) To protect the public from exposure to disease transmitted by physical contact of a sexual nature; and (4) To reduce the amount of criminal activity occurring in adult uses, i.e., prostitution and lewd and lascivious acts. Sec. 14-147. Definitions (a) Adult use. An adult use includes and is defined as follows: (1) Adult entertainment establishment. Any premises on which is offered to members of the public or any person, for a consideration, entertainment that has as its primary or dominant theme, subject matter depicting, describing or relating to specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas, as defined in this section; "entertainment" as used in this definition shall include, but not be limited to, books, magazines, films, newspapers, photographs, paintings, drawings, sketches or other publications or graphic media, filmed or live plays, dances or other performances, either by single individuals or groups. (2) Adult theater. An enclosed building or an enclosed space within a building used for presenting either filmed or live plays, dances or other performances, either by individuals or groups, that have as their primary or dominant theme, subject matter depicting, describing, or relating to specific sexual activities or specified anatomical areas, as defined in this section, for observation by patrons therein. (3) Live model studio. Any premises where there is provided for members of the public or for any person, for a consideration, live human models, whether male or female, displaying specified anatomical areas or featuring or in any way including, specified sexual activities. (b) Entertainer. One who provides entertainment, or provides a performance or show, including, but not limited to, persons who perform sexually oriented dance performance. (c) Patron. One who enters and remains in an adult use establishment to observe the activities therein.

First 2 dancers convicted
(TAMPA, FL) -- A city ordinance aimed at curbing Tampa's adult entertainment industry by banning lap dancing withstood its first court test Thursday. For the first time, two nude dancers were convicted of violating the law in separate jury trials in Hillsborough County court. The measure bars dancers in the city's nude clubs from coming within six feet of patrons.

Police have enforced it sporadically since its passage by city council in 1999. So far, more than 300 dancers and customers from as far away as California have been arrested at clubs such as Mons Venus, 2001 Odyssey, the Pink Pony and Goldrush. Molly Jacobsen's case was the first to be tried. Jacobsen, 27, a nude dancer for the past nine years at Mons Venus, was surprised at first by the verdict, but then vowed to continue defying the ordinance. ``I think this ordinance has been a total infringement of every dancer's rights,'' Jacobsen said. ``I didn't expect to lose today. But we'll appeal.''

Another Mons Venus dancer, Jennifer Daniels, 20, was convicted in the second trial. But because neither dancer has a prior criminal record, Hillsborough County Judge Joelle Ann Ober levied a $100 fine and court costs against each. The women could have been fined as much as $1,000 and sentenced to six months in jail.

Tampa officials say the ordinance was needed because lap dancing can spread disease, contributes to prostitution and is lewd and obscene. For all the protests that have erupted since police began targeting dancers - club owners and performers have condemned the measure repeatedly before city council - it took jurors in Jacobsen's case less than a minute to reach a verdict. ``What I do is an erotic expression of art through dance,'' Jacobsen testified. ``The message you want to convey is sensuality. I dance on stage and I lap dance. Sometimes the dance is aimed at one customer.'' Two female jurors flinched as Jacobsen described her act in more detail.

Juror Dean Salls, who works with the county's planning commission, said Jacobsen's testimony is what clinched the verdict for him and the rest of the panel, made up of two other men and three women. ``She described very well what she does for a living and when she testified we realized that she had violated the ordinance,'' Salls said. After the trial, Mons Venus owner Joe Redner approached Salls, ordinance in hand, and waved it in the juror's face. Redner and Jacobsen's attorney, Luke Lirot, said they were not allowed to present evidence in the trial and were dismayed that the judge instructed the jury to disregard the constitutionality of the ordinance. ``We have the right to challenge this ordinance as unreasonable,'' Redner told Salls. ``And we will in appellate court. ``The Mons Venus is part of the family,'' said Redner. ``I have a lot of respect for all of these girls and this is not going to end here.''

Reporter Lyda Longa can be reached at (813) 259-7638. This is what's going on with the new law againt lapdancer and they have arrested over 300 poeple. The whole city is losing money. I have hear that alot of storys of false arrested in Tampa Fla. Well let me here if you hear anything on your side.

Thank you

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