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"Caterer seeks license renewals"

on Wednesday, 02 November 2011. Hits 973

Weekly Observer

The owners of a catering company that hosted a sexually explicit “swingers club” gathering at the Mousam View Place banquet hall have promised that such events will never happen there again. But whether it will cost the company its liquor license this week remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, residents who live within sight of the hall on High Street said they are relieved that the company is putting a stop to the parties.

“It’s disgusting,” said Destini Rideout, who lives in an apartment building across from the hall. “It’s just repulsive.”

On Tuesday evening, after the Observer’s deadline, James Colley, owner of Fresh Start Catering, the business that occupies the hall, will go before the Town Council seeking renewals of the company’s liquor license, amusement license, dance permit and victualer’s license.

The meeting will take place less than two weeks after the company received a letter dated Oct. 21 from the town, charging that the company operated a “swingers club” at the hall. Town Manager Mark Green said this week that the town issued the letter following an undercover police investigation on Oct. 15.

According to the letter, officers saw about 40 people engaged in sexually explicit activity in the building.

“While food and alcoholic beverages were being served, patrons were observed in full nudity, and engaging in a variety of sex acts, including oral sex and full penetration,” the letter reads.

Green said the patrons at the party paid to participate.

“Basically, it was an admission fee,” he said.

The letter accused the company of violating obscenity laws and ordered the parties to stop immediately.

“You are in violation of the Sanford Code because, without limitation, the activities observed at the premises … constitute adult business establishment use under the Sanford Code,” the letter reads.

Tim Gagnon and his wife, Regina, live on Bougie Lane, with Mousam View Place at the edge of their property.

“It’s right in our back yard, literally, and our kids play out there,” Regina Gagnon said.

During the day, the Gagnons babysit their neighbors’ children, and have seen and talked to workers over at the hall. So far, Tim Gagnon said, the hall has been a good neighbor, and gave no real hint of what kind of parties might have been going on inside.

“It surprised the both of us,” Tim Gagnon said.

On Friday afternoon, Rideout pointed to a chainlink fence bordering the hall’s parking lot with two wires hanging from it. She said that was where a sign used to hang advertising a gun show at the hall.

“This lot was always full, but they always had a sign on the fence that would say, ‘Gun Show, Friday and Saturday night,’” she said.

Tim Gagnon said he recently saw patrons enter the building wearing costumes, and dismissed it as an early Halloween party. Rideout said she saw people going in, too, and many of them were carrying coolers.

“I don’t know what was in them,” she said. “I don’t want to know.”

Marie Bearss, who has lived on nearby North Avenue for the past 32 years, remembers when the building used to be the old Knights of Columbus hall. She said she couldn’t believe it when she heard what kind of parties had been hosted there recently.

“It upset me because I’m Catholic,” she said. “I don’t believe in that kind of stuff.”

Colley and his wife, Susan, have been unavailable for comment since the activities inside the hall became public. On Friday afternoon, a man sat in a black Hyundai minivan outside the hall’s main entrance. When asked if he worked for the catering company, he  said, “Not interested, thanks,” and drove away.

In response to the town’s cease-and-desist letter, Colley wrote by mail and email to town officials, promising to abide by the town’s wishes.

“I have informed the owner of the group, which is neither Sue nor myself, that the parties will no longer take place at Mousam View Place,” Colley wrote. “Our intent was never to violate any codes or embarrass this community, the building owner or ourselves.” ...

"St. Louis board strips permit from sadomasochism club"

on Sunday, 30 October 2011. Hits 1544

STLToday.com

The state's first legal for-profit whips-and-chains club is no longer quite so legal.

The Clan of the Barbarian, which billed itself as the first permitted sadomasochism club in Missouri — though that point was up for contention — lost its city occupancy permit yesterday.

The city's Board of Adjustment heard testimony from at least seven residents or business owners from south St. Louis's Benton Park West neighborhood. Each described how the activities inside the brick warehouse at 3130 Gravois Avenue were dangerous, lowered real estate values, or disturbed the neighborhood.

"Had we known that this was not a construction company looking for office space in February of this year, we would have disseminated this information much earlier," said neighborhood association President Linda Hennigh, as she gave the board letters, emails, and 77 signatures against the business. "The Clan of the Barbarian has established residence in Benton Park West through lies and manipulation."

Clan owner Joe Kriegesmann, who showed up late for the hearing, muttered audibly throughout testimony. At one point, he openly yelled profanities at an antagonist.

But as the testimony concluded, Kriegesmann himself approached the panel.

And, in what became a confusing moment for the audience and board members, he declared that he was in support of the neighbors' appeal against his club.

"I am in favor of this," Kriegesmann told the board. "If our esteemed neighborhood theatrical production today had been noticing — we've already started to move."

The board eventually voted to reverse an earlier decision by the city's first arbiter on such matters, the Board of Public Service, which granted the club an occupancy permit as an "educational" business.

Still, board members were unconvinced the club ever had a legal right to occupy the space. Building inspectors, they said, had never signed the final permits.

But all of this left neighbors confused. If club members showed up tonight or for Halloween, for instance, should they call the cops?

Alderman Ken Ortmann, who had testified against the Clan, told them to call him. He would call the right person, he said.

Kriegesmann later declined to say where his business was headed, only that it would remain in the city, in industrial zoning.

Then, this morning, he reversed course again, and told the Post-Dispatch that he was moving the offices — but not the club.

 

"South St. Louis sadomasochism club loses permit"

on Sunday, 30 October 2011. Hits 698

KMOV.com

Neighbors fighting for the closure of a sex club in south St. Louis won a battle Wednesday night.

The club is promoted as a private torture chamber where couples can tie up and whip each other.

The club lost its permit Wednesday, and the owner is not fighting to get it back.

Over the summer, the club owner showed News 4 the facility and said that his intention was to put on safety classes and demonstrations in bondage and sadomasochism where couples can tie up, whip and cage each other.

The city granted a permit for educational safety seminars, but Alderman Craig Schmid and some in the neighborhood took issue with that.

The club can appeal the appeal, but sources say the owner testified in favor of revoking the permit because he’s going to move anyway

"Town says caterers violated food license by holding sex parties"

on Wednesday, 26 October 2011. Hits 496

Bangor Daily News

ANFORD, Maine — The town of Sanford say the owners of a local business have been holding monthly swingers parties at a banquet hall and says they must stop.

Town officials say Jim and Susan Colley of Springvale have been using the former Knights of Columbus hall to hold the parties for a few months. The parties cost $40 for couples and single men to get in, while single women get in free. The town says the Colleys, who own a catering business that occupies part of the building, do not have a license to operate an adult business.

The code enforcement officer sent the Colleys a letter last week after an undercover officer attended one of their parties. The letter says approximately 40 people attended the most recent party and listed a litany of complaints, including, “Patrons engaged in sex acts in the immediate proximity of food that was prepared and/or served to patrons,” and that the Colleys “knowingly received and admitted patrons to the Premises for purposes of engaging in and/or exhibiting or observing for entertainment purposes, nude entertainment, and live sex acts.”

The letter says the offenses constitute tumultuous conduct, nuisances, prostitution and public indecency, and obscenity.

Despite the involvement of police, the letter only lists code violations. A spokesman for the Sanford Police Department told the Bangor Daily News that “there was no criminal activity taking place in the facility.”

"Sanford orders caterer to stop sex parties at banquet hall"

on Wednesday, 26 October 2011. Hits 723

Morning Sentinel

SANFORD — Town officials have ordered a local catering company to stop hosting sex parties at a former Knights of Columbus hall on High Street.

Jim and Susan Colley of Springvale, operators of Great Beginnings Catering at Mousam View Place, have been hosting monthly swingers' parties at 47 High St. for a few months, town officials claim in an Oct. 21 letter to the Colleys.

Town officials took action after undercover police officers attended a Halloween party at the banquet hall on Oct. 15 and witnessed about 40 people openly engaged in various sexual acts, said Police Chief Tom Connolly.

The letter to the Colleys ordered them to stop promoting the banquet hall and admitting patrons "for purposes of engaging in or observing nudity or sexual conduct."

The Colleys don't have a permit to operate an adult business in town, said Code Enforcement Officer Shirley Sheesley. Moreover, the town's zoning ordinance doesn't list adult businesses as a permitted use, so the ordinance would have to be changed to allow the Colleys to even seek a permit for an adult business, Sheesley said.

The Colleys couldn't be reached for comment.

The parties, publicized on a swingers' group website, playsouthernmaine.webs.com, apparently started in July and were scheduled to run through December. Couples and single men paid $40 admission at the door; single women got in free.

The Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic service organization and social club, sold the building several years ago. It's now owned by Northborough Realty Holdings of Chelmsford, Mass., said Town Clerk Sue Cote.

Great Beginnings is a tenant in the building, which is available for weddings and other special events. Gov. Paul LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen have held public forums there in the last several months.

The Colleys hold permits to sell food, hold dances and offer other types of legal entertainment, Cote said. Their liquor license expired on Oct. 5.

On Oct. 12, Jim Colley applied for new licenses for 47 High St. for a new company called Fresh Start Catering, Cote said. The Town Council is scheduled to review the applications on Nov. 1.

"Sanford: Alleged swingers’ events violate code"

on Wednesday, 26 October 2011. Hits 596

Journal Tribune

Town officials, who allege a popular banquet hall has been the venue for sex parties for swingers, have ordered the lessees to cease hosting the events, citing violation of town codes that pertain to obscenity, among other alleged code violations.

In a certified letter addressed to Jim and Susan Colley dated Oct. 21, Codes Enforcement Officer Shirley Sheesley alleged a recent town investigation showed about 40 patrons paid a fee to be admitted to Mousam View Place, also known as 47 High Street, and to join a “swingers club” meeting there.

During the investigation, conducted during an undercover operation in October, patrons were allegedly observed “in full nudity and engaging in a variety of sex acts” while food and alcoholic beverages were being served, according to the letter on file at town hall.

Patrons engaged in sex acts in the immediate proximity of food that was prepared and/or served to patrons, the letter alleges, and patrons watched others engaged in sexual acts. The letter also alleges the events and planned future events were promoted on a website.

The Colleys have operated Great Beginnings catering firm and have leased the banquet hall at 47 High St. for several years. In a brief telephone interview Monday, Susan Colley claimed she had not been involved in the business for about 18 months and referred questions to her husband.


“He has been running the business himself,” she said.

When asked about alleged swingers events at the premises, she said, “I am not commenting.”

Messages left at the catering business and to a telephone number listed on town documents as a contact for Jim Colley were not returned as of press time this morning.

Police Chief Thomas Connolly said his office had received complaints during the past couple of months about the alleged activity at Mousam View Place and allegations about what might be happening there. He said there were rumors of prostitution and drug activity, which promoted the undercover police operation. He said those rumors turned out to be false.

“(Police) did not observe anything illegal, but they were appalled by the open display of sexual acts throughout the venue,” said Connolly, who went on to say, however, there were administrative victualers, special amusement and liquor violations.


Connolly estimated the alleged swingers events had taken place for the last few months including in September and October. As of this morning, an event scheduled for November remained on the website authorities say is used to promote the venue.

Town Clerk Sue Cote said Great Beginnings holds victualers, dance and special amusement permits from the town that expire Dec. 31. According to Cote and the state liquor licensing division of the Maine State Police, Great Beginnings’ liquor license expired Oct. 5. The October event was a “bring your own,” event, said Connolly.

Cote on Monday said Jim Colley has applied for new licenses for a company called Fresh Start Catering. Those licenses are scheduled to be taken up by the town council Nov. 1.

Town attorney Bryan Dench on Monday said if an establishment is licensed to sell alcohol or has a victualers license or special amusement permit, there are restrictions on what can take place there. As well, under the state’s nuisance laws, certain kinds of activities are not permitted in a public venue, even if an event is not open to the public in the same way as a shopping mall is, he said.

“It is still a public place,” said Dench.

According to the letter, the alleged events contravene town codes involving tumultuous conduct, public indecency and obscenity and is a nuisance. The events were knowingly promoted, the town alleges, and the activity there “disturbs the peace of others of ordinary sensibilities and violates community standards of public decency, and/or creates a situation that endangers the public health, safety or welfare.”

The letter goes on to say the activity appears to constitute the creation of a public nuisance under state laws, “for which the Town reserves the right to pursue all legally available remedies.”

The letter points out that the activities observed constitute an adult business establishment, for which the lessees do not have a license. ...

"‘Go Ask Alice’ sex-ed site deemed too ‘graphic’ by politicians, parents"

on Wednesday, 26 October 2011. Hits 517

The Washington Post

New York politicians and parents are up in arms over new sex-ed curriculum required for sixth- and seventh-graders at city public schools starting next spring. The curriculum pushes for abstinence but also teaches condom use and alternative ways of having sex.

At the focus of their furor is Columbia University's Go Ask Alice Web site, a sex-education site named after the controversial 1971 book that tells the life story of a troubled teenage girl. The site is on the new curriculum’s recommended resources list.

The New York Post reports that some think the site tackles topics too mature for middle-schoolers, including sadomasochism, sexual positions, fetishes, pornography and more. The site has been praised in the past for offering information about sex to students in a safe, academic online forum.

Leading the charge against New York’s new curriculum and the Go Ask Alice Web site are the NYC Parents’ Choice Coalition and three Republican elected officials, including State Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn).

Malliotakis calls the new curriculum “explicit and graphic.”

The assemblywoman cites as especially troubling the inclusion of the “Go Ask Alice” Web site on the recommended resources list, because it touches on topics like pornography, “swing clubs” and foot fetishes.

Salon.com’s J. Bryan Lowder acknowledges that the site may be geared for a college-age person. But he is one of many people now speaking out to say the site shouldn’t be dismissed altogether. Lowder writes:

The main mission of Alice is to provide a forum for solid, professionally moderated health advice on any sexual issue, from the most vanilla encounter to the deepest dungeons of kink (not to mention its wide-ranging coverage of non-sexual issues like nutrition, exercise, and stress management). In other words, your kid could do a great deal worse on Google. ...

"[Update with comment from city] City of Atlanta denies wrongdoing in second Eagle lawsuit"

on Wednesday, 19 October 2011. Hits 803

GA Voice

Update from Reese McCranie, spokesperson for Mayor Kasim Reed:


"The new lawsuit claims that every named plaintiff was subjected to improper treatment, including persons the City cannot confirm were actually present at the Eagle during the time of the operation. At this preliminary stage of the lawsuit, the City has not had an opportunity to interview these new plaintiffs and confirm their presence, so the City had no choice but to deny those allegations at this point. Had these new plaintiffs joined in the original Calhoun lawsuit instead of waiting for the outcome of that case before coming forward, the City would have been able to confirm their presence and include them in the previous settlement."

 

The city of Atlanta denies police officers violated the constitutional rights of patrons when the Vice Unit and the now disbanded Red Dog Unit raided the gay Midtown bar the Atlanta Eagle two years ago. The denial comes in the form of a response to the second lawsuit filed over the botched raid bar on Sept. 10, 2009.

"City defendants assert that they took no action to deprive plaintiff's of any right, privilege, freedom or immunity secured by the Constitution" and the laws of Georgia and Atlanta, reads the response filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, Oct. 6 — the day before Atlanta Pride kicks off.

The city's answer also states, "Insofar as Plaintiffs have been affected by the conduct of City Defendants, their actions were reasonable, proper, and necessary" and that the plaintiff's allegations "do not establish a constitutional violation."

While the second lawsuit by the 10 men who were in the bar the night it was raided was filed in Fulton County Superior Court,  the city filed a motion to remove the lawsuit from that court and have it moved to federal court where the response was filed.

"I'm stunned" by the response, said attorney Dan Grossman, who is representing the 10 Eagle plaintiffs along with Gerry Weber. Grossman was the lead attorney in the first Eagle lawsuit that resulted in the city settling with 28 plaintiffs in December 2010 for more than $1 million.

Grossman said he is "stunned" because two in-depth investigations — one by the APD's Office of Professional Standards as well as an independent investigation by former U.S. Attorney Joe Whitley of the law firm Greenberg Traurig — showed that officers violated the constitutional rights of the patrons who were searched and detained in the first lawsuit.

And while the first settlement signed by U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten states, "Plaintiffs [were] unlawfully searched, detained, and/or arrested on September 10-11, 2009, at the Atlanta Eagle in Atlanta, Georgia, and that none of the Plaintiffs [were] personally suspected of any criminal activity," Batten did add, "This finding has no preclusive effect as to any other person or entity not a party to this litigation." Read Judge Batten's ruling in the original lawsuit here.

Mayor Kasim Reed, a defendant in the second Eagle lawsuit, said in July after the two investigations were released that he was "shocked" by their findings.

"My reaction [to the reports] is that this is terrible and I'm going to take whatever steps necessary to make sure this never happens in the city of Atlanta again," Reed said. ...

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