Sandy Springs suit puts strip clubs ‘on notice'

Sandy Springs, which has feuded with its strip clubs since incorporating six years ago, filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday against four adult entertainment establishments, alleging habitual violations of the city's vice ordinances.

"They're on notice," said Sandy Springs attorney Wendell Willard, "and if they continue violating the law, they will be shut down."

Sandy Springs is already locked in a pair of legal battles with the clubs, which filed civil and federal suits against the city in 2006 seeking to overturn ordinances banning alcohol, private rooms as well as establishing distances between the clubs and churches, parks, schools and homes. Those suits have yet to be settled.

Named in Tuesday's filing were Flashers, Mardi Gras, Main Stage/the Coronet Club (which share a building and ownership) and Inserection, an adult fantasy store.

"It's harassment," said Alan Begner, attorney for Maxim Cabaret, which owns Main Stage and the Coronet Club on Roswell Road. Begner said the suit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, was timed to influence the judge hearing Maxim Cabaret's suit against the city.

"I'm angry about it," he said, adding he intends to file a counterclaim.

Sandy Springs alleges the defendants "have continued to flout the regulations governing their establishments for many years," citing numerous violations including live sex acts performed on customers.

Some of the alleged violations date back to the city's infancy and, according to Sandy Springs, continue to this day. In the same month Sandy Springs became a city, it hired five private investigators to conduct surveillance at the adult clubs, according to the lawsuit. Their subsequent report contained details of lascivious behavior.

Willard said the problem is beyond what law enforcement can handle, adding, "It's hard for an undercover officer to go in there and make arrests."

Asked if the city wants the clubs shuttered, Willard demurred, saying, "We want them to comply with the law."

The city's suit seeks an injunction from the court warning the clubs that further violations will put them out of business for good.

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