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September 10, 2018

Strip Clubs Closed in Sandy Springs

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga.—Visitors to the Facebook pages of the Doll House and Coronet Club adult clubs on September 5 found the following message posted: "We are closed indefinitely. Thank you so much for your continued patronage over the years. It has truly been our pleasure to serve you." The reason for the closed doors? After the clubs' attorneys had their petition for certiorari denied by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 11, Sandy Springs was allowed to enforce its long-embattled adult entertainment ordinance, which forbade alcohol sales in the clubs and created a "set-back" between customers and dancers, allowing no touching or even close approach. Both clubs, as well as the Flasher's and Mardi Gras clubs, were all effectively zoned out of the city by the ordinance, which was largely written by attorney Scott Bergthold, a longtime adult entertainment opponent. According to news site Patch.com, the Doll House and Coronet Club posted their notice just one day after a dancer from the Mardi Gras testified before the Sandy Springs City Council that none of the local clubs were operated like clubs of poor repute in nearby Atlanta, and that the forced closing of local clubs would "displace and oppress dancers" and "force the employees to work in places that are filled with drugs and prostitution." She also denied that her club had had any negative effects on property values or crime statistics in the surrounding area. The clubs' battle has been ongoing for a dozen years, shortly after the city first incorporated in 2005—and hired Bergthold to write its adult entertainment ordinance. The Coronet Club, which was the first to file suit, suffered its first major loss in the state Supreme Court, with Justice Britt Grant ruling that, "[The Coronet Club] argues that by prohibiting the profitable combination of live nudity and alcohol, the city will effectively eliminate constitutionally protected conduct; that is, nude dance. But constitutional protections are extended to speech and expression, not to profits." After that, three of the city's other adult venues—the Mardi Gras, Flasher's and Inserection—sued federally, but lost their first round in 2016 after U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled that the city's ordinance was not unconstitutional, and that the city "reasonably relied on judicial opinions, land use and crime impact reports, and witness observations to meet its burden of supporting its rationale that the ordinances may reduce the costs of secondary effects" which allegedly included "alcohol abuse, fights, sex for hire, prostitution, diminished property values and deterioration of neighborhoods." Since then, the clubs have been denied relief by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and most recently the U.S. Supreme Court. The adult store Inserections however remains open, in part because it offers no live entertainment. AVN has reached out to attorneys familiar with and/or involved in the lawsuit, but were unable to get a response at press time.

 
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