Archive for Thursday, May 10, 2001

Whispers could face charges

May 10, 2001

Charges could be filed against Whispers Cabaret by the end of the week, Leavenworth County District Attorney Frank Kohl said. Whispers Cabaret allegedly violated a county resolution by allowing topless dancing within the building of Ma Belles, a bar on Kansas Highway 7 in Leavenworth, Kohl said.

Several different representatives from the county attorney's office have reviewed the case and a conference relating to the possible charges regarding the nightclub was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

"It appears based upon the evidence from the two officers that went in (the club) that there were acts being engaged in that were in violation of the county resolution as well as some state statutes," Kohl said.

In August of last year, the Leavenworth County Commissioners passed a resolution banning nude dancing in any public establishment regardless of whether the business sells alcohol. Whispers Cabaret owner Wayne Eldridge was chairman of the county commissioners at the time of the passed resolution.

Kohl said possible charges could include violations of the county resolution, promoting obscenity and/or prostitution and public nudity for both the dancers and the club's owners.

Although all of the charges are misdemeanors, the promoting of prostitution charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

The charges against the dancers at the club stem from an investigation in March by the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department in which two plain-clothes Brown County deputies were sent into the club to confirm reports of nudity.

In their investigation, the Brown County deputies viewed lap dances as well as nudity, Kohl said. There was also a VIP room, but it appeared not to be in use, Kohl said.

In addition to any charges filed by the county, there could also be charges brought by the Alcoholic Beverage Control, Kohl said.

Recent court decisions relating to a county's right to ban nude dancing have been upheld under the court of appeals, Kohl said.

"The court has said it is OK for a municipal ordinance to ban nude dancing in bars," Kohl said. "The county ordinance doesn't specifically aim per se to the issue of bars, it is aimed at the issue of promoting nudity or nude entertainment in general."

Eldridge has retained the services attorney Dick Bryant of Kansas City, Mo. Bryant has previously stated that there is no nudity at Whispers Cabaret as it is defined in the resolution and that the establishment could decide to challenge the constitutionality of the county resolution.

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