It?s now illegal for minors to enter or work in Dallas strip clubs, and closed-door ?VIP rooms? are henceforth banned, the Dallas City Council ruled Wednesday as part of a reform of laws governing sexually oriented businesses.
The changes come in part as a result of Dallas police in March discovering a 12-year-old girl dancing nude in Diamond?s Cabaret, a Dallas club, which remained open because no city law allowed City Hall to revoke the establishment?s sexually oriented business license for employing a minor.
?When we realized we did not have the tools in place ? we have moved quickly to put those tools in place,? Mayor Tom Leppert said of the strengthened law. ?We are pressing the issues associated with the minors, and it gives us the tools the police department is going to need to continue to address this situation and address it in a very forceful way, a very aggressive way and a very timely way.?
... But Dawn Rizos, owner of the Lodge strip club, said the city?s new rules make sense and won?t be difficult to comply with.
?We support any measures that will prevent such a situation from ever happening again. The Lodge already complies with nearly all the new changes, except for the fingerprinting,? she said in a prepared statement.
Dallas? revamped sex business law:
Calls for an automatic one-year revocation of licenses for sexually oriented businesses found to be employing or entertaining minors.
Prohibits strip clubs from operating closed-door ?VIP rooms? in which sexual performances or activity is taking place. The new ordinance, City Attorney Tom Perkins said, ?prohibits doors, walls, drapes or anything that obstructs the views of these areas. They must be clearly and completely visible from anywhere else in the club.?
Requires any sexually oriented business owner to designate an official club operator who?s present during club operating hours and responsible for activity within the club.
Requires sexually oriented clubs to keep on file detailed records of all employees, including dancers. The employee records must include the person?s age, an original photo, valid driver?s license copy, fingerprints and a Texas criminal history report.
By council ruling, the revised ordinance takes effect Monday. It empowers Police Chief David Kunkle to shut down a sexually oriented business down within 10 days ? reduced from 30 days ? upon citing them for a violation of the new law.
If Dallas police revoke a sexually oriented business? operation license, the business may appeal the ruling to Dallas? Permit and License Appeals Board, and ultimately, state district court.
... The City Council met in a closed session for nearly two hours Wednesday before voting on the revised sexually oriented business ordinance.
During the closed session, Mr. Perkins said he briefed council members on legal issues surrounding his office?s recommendations to the council. His office had been studying changes to Dallas? sexually oriented business laws for nearly a year and a half.