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Sex club owners plan court appeal over raids
By Beth DeFalco The Arizona Republic
Sept. 23, 2002 12:00:00
Reprinted with full credit under fair use provision of the U.S. copyright law for education and no commercial purpose

Owners of four Phoenix sex clubs this week plan to ask a federal appeals court to stop the city from conducting more raids like the one that ended with their arrest Friday.

In 1999, U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver denied the owners' request for an injunction against enforcement of a ban on live sex acts in businesses. Then in August, Silver ruled in the city's favor and effectively gave it the go-ahead for enforcement.

Despite the arrest of four sex club owners and operators Friday for violating the 1998 ban, the swinging apparently carried on.

Although patrons were technically violating a public indecency law, they were allowed to continue with their activities after club owners were allowed to hand over keys and instructions to subordinates.

Milo Fencl, owner of Club Chamelon, said his arrest came in retaliation for lawsuits he and three other sex club owners filed against the city.

"It certainly crosses my mind that that's the motivation," said Fencl, 56, who spent 14 hours in jail Saturday and, like the other three owners, could face up to 6 months in county jail if he is convicted.

Four of the five swingers clubs in the city formed an alliance to fight the ban as a civil rights violation. One that did not join the fight, Sociables II, was the only business where police did not find violations.

Fencl's lawyer, Nick Hentoff, said he thinks police tipped off the club. Police deny the accusation, but acknowledge that it appears the club had a heads-up on the raid.

Hentoff also questions why owners and operators were hauled off to jail for a misdemeanor offense.

Phoenix police said they were making a point.

"We will continue to arrest them as long as they violate the ordinance," said Phoenix police spokesman Detective Tony Morales.

A business is in violation if it provides "the opportunity to engage in, or the opportunity to view, live sex acts."

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