WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio, February 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Cincinnati just witnessed the power of individual citizens speaking out against the sex industry coming to their town. And then Cincinnati witnessed a judge overruling their concerns.
Butler County pleas judge Craig Hedric ruled that West Chester Township officials improperly rescinded a license for a sexually oriented business in their community.
Melissa Warren, a Fort Wayne “Swinger's Club” owner, wanted to expand her sex trade into the Cincinnati suburbs. She and her boyfriend Eric Adams invested in land in West Chester Township and set up positive meetings with township officials to secure a zoning permit and license for her “sexually oriented business.”
Warren and Adams got their permit and license – township officials bent over backward, as they say, to publicly defend Warren and her “business,” saying she did everything right. But when folks heard about a sex swap lounge coming to their town, they took action.
Residents wrote and called township trustees, who received several angry communications about bringing the sex trade to West Chester Township. Township Trustees, including George Lang, reacted to the public outcry by backpedaling as fast as they could.
“I am in full agreement with you on this issue,” Lang responded to one angry resident via email. “We [the trustees who had just given Warren her license and permit] are in the process of actively fighting this business.”
Many citizens expressed concern that the sex club would be located only 220 yards away from Cornerstone's Child Development Center on Commercial Drive in Fairfield.
Further complicating matters is the FBI, whose background check on Adams turned up undisclosed things in his background that may disqualify him from eligibility for a sexually oriented business license.
Within a week of Warren and Adams obtaining the license and permit to run a swinger's club, both were rescinded by Community Development Director Michael Juengling. The township even took action to make sure Warren and Adams could not reapply, passing a nine-month ban on sex businesses like theirs.
At a January 13 zoning meeting, director Juengling told the township board that his department made a mistake by issuing Warren's zoning certificate, without enough information.
As it turns out, the FBI background on Adams (trespassing, and an unconvicted charge for domestic battery) did not disqualify him from a sexually oriented business license. But by the time the background specifics were disclosed, the township had already passed its nine-month ban.
Not surprisingly, Warren is suing West Chester Township, claiming that township officials did not act consistently with Ohio and local laws.
“Sexually oriented businesses,” specifically strip bars, are protected by the Supreme Court decision considering their dancers “performance artists.” However, West Chester Township officials now say that Warren's “swinger's club” is an constitutionally unprotected “sexual encounter establishment.”
Ohio law defines a “sexual encounter establishment” as a place where “two or more persons may congregate, associate, or consort for the purpose of engaging in specified sexual activities.”
Ball State University professor Eric Kelly, who has successfully drafted legal regulations restricting sexually oriented businesses and has authored a book about sex industry regulation, says swinger's clubs should not be protected businesses. He admits, however, that “the law on that is not clear.”