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.
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. ...
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 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.
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. ...
Just in time for Pride: Yesterday, the City filed its response to a lawsuit recently filed by ten men who were present at the Atlanta Eagle the night it was improperly raided by the Atlanta Police Department. See, I say "improperly" because it's been established several times over — in a previous settlement, an outside investigation commissioned by the city, as well as an investigation report prepared by the APD itself — that officers involved in the raid did NOT follow procedure. And certain APD procedures that were followed were later deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge.
In its response to this most recent lawsuit, the City basically says that the raid was not improper. Here's the dumb-or-brilliant part: They've phrased it so they're not necessarily arguing that NO ONE'S rights were violated or that the police didn't act inappropriately toward SOME PEOPLE — just not these particular plaintiffs.
Here are some highlights from the response (just to clarify, "City Defendants" includes the officers who conducted the raid, several of whom have already been fired for their role in the raid and the subsequent coverup): ...
Attorney Dan Grossman told CL today that he expected the City would argue damages — yeah, we were wrong, but how much is that hour spent lying on a filthy barroom floor really worth? — but didn't expect they'd argue the raid itself was acceptable.
In an emailed statement he said, "These statements directly contradict the conclusions of the city's two formal investigation reports, which found widespread violations of the patrons' constitutional rights."
Grossman describes the argument as "frivolous," and says bringing it before a judge could expose the City to sanctions — and paying the plaintiff's legal fees.
UPDATE: City spokesperson Sonji Dade acknowledges that the city's answer to the new lawsuit may sound incongruous with the court settlements it has previously made, but says it reflects standard legal practice.
"There are plaintiffs named in this new suit that the city hasn't yet confirmed were present in the Eagle that night," she says. "The legal strategy at this point has to be to deny the allegations and go from there."
If that sounds to you like the city will eventually settle most of these cases, too, we'd agree.
She’ll beat you. She’ll bite you. And she can get you locked up for 15 to life.
Former state prosecutor Alisha Smith, a k a the feared dominatrix Alisha Spark, looked ultra-demure in a black pants suit accented by a coquettish pink blouse yesterday as she and her bad-ass lawyer, Gloria Allred, complained that, for the first time in pursuing her dual passions -- doling out justice while beating willing butts -- she’d been manhandled.
Smith abruptly quit her $78,825-a-year job battling securities fraud for the state Attorney General’s Office, she announced at a press conference at the Friars Club.
This after being suspended without pay last month when her bosses learned from The Post about her frisky nocturnal ministrations.
Famous in the S&M world for her skillful spandex-clad spankings, Smith, while not denying her freaky ways, says she did not make money trolling the dungeons while working for the state’s top law-enforcement official, a job she’s held since 2002.
A standing executive order prohibits AG’s office employees from taking in $1,000 from any other source.
As if to show she has not a whit of shame about her extracurricular high-jinks, Smith brought two photos of herself to the press conference in which she’s dressed as her alter ego -- in a low-cut pink spandex get-up for Valentine’s Day, black spandex for Halloween.
“It’s very fashionable for young women to wear latex,’’ Allred said, bungling the name of the material for one that’s even more kinky. “Marc Jacobs has shown latex on the runway for fall and winter 2011. Katy Perry also wore it.’’
Even these pix are tame compared with the skin-tight, see-through dress and heart-shaped pasties in which Smith was photographed at a recent fetish event.
Yesterday, Smith was righteously angry about her career malfunction.
“All of [the AG’s] actions towards me have been extremely disturbing because I have never accepted any money or payment from any outside source for anything while I have been employed by the New York Attorney General’s Office,’’ Smith said.
Allred also took a swipe at her bosses. “Very quickly, and without checking with Ms. Smith to determine if the story about to run was true or false, and without providing any hearing to Ms. Smith, the New York Attorney General’s Office suspended her without pay.’’...
In a press conference yesterday with high-powered attorney Gloria Allred at her side, Assistant State Attorney General and accused money-for-lashings dominatrix Alisha Smith resigned her post, but not before criticizing her employer for a breach of public decency. "All of [the AG's] actions towards me have been deeply disturbing because I have never accepted any money or payment from any outside source for anything," Smith said.
According to ABC, she later displayed two photos of her in spandex outfits, and Allred suggested that "Employers do not have the right to go on fishing expeditions into an employee private sexual activities and an employee should not have to sacrifice their privacy about their sex life in order to keep a job," except when people are dumb enough to share on Facebook.
Smith, who is allegedly known as "Alisha Spark" in the BDSM community, was praised by then-Attorney General Cuomo back in 2009 for helping to win a $5 billion settlement from Bank of America and others for securities fraud. Allred said Attorney General Schneiderman's office was investigating Smith because of a "source" in a New York Post article that told the paper she received payment for her services, which is illegal unless first cleared with her employers.
"The AG…called her in and asked her numerous questions about her private sexual activities, inquiring about whether or not she only brought boyfriends into her bedroom and what she did with them," Allred said. Smith, 36, has been suspended without pay from her $78K/year job for a month, and she and Allred haven't yet decided whether to sue the AG's office or the Post. Shneiderman's press secretary released a one-sentence statement on the matter: "Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, this office received the employee’s letter of resignation. The resignation was voluntary and accepted.” The AG's office also insists that the claims against Smith were serious and warranted investigation.
The Post's Andrea Peyser writes in typical fashion, "…she’s unemployed. Considering the bruising the kinky one inflicted on the reputation of the state, it’s for the best." Judging other (highly professional and effective!) people for their BDSM activities in New York in 2011? Oh, that's a paddlin'.
@WickedGrounds is closed today. We are very sorry for any inconvenience.
That tweet went out two Wednesdays ago. It was at once cryptic and unsurprising. On the one hand, it might just mean what it said: Wicked Grounds was closed for the day. On the other, it could mean something more, because the city's only kink-oriented coffeehouse had suffered financially since its opening. The fact that it was still open at all was because of an enormous effort by regular clientele to raise funds. (The owners had announced it would close at the end of April.) When the tweet went out, everyone froze for a minute, wondering whether the axe had finally dropped.
Once the baristas started posting on Twitter and Fetlife about finding new jobs, it seemed very clear: Wicked Grounds was closed for good -- and with it an important hub of San Francisco's BDSM community.
I can't pretend to have journalistic objectivity on this subject. For the past two years, Wicked Grounds has been central to my social life in the city. When it opened, I wrote it up for CarnalNation, the website where I worked at the time, and when it looked like it would close, I participated in the fundraisers to keep it open. A lot of my writing has been done sitting at one of its tables while people openly practiced bondage knots a few feet away. My main response to its closing is a profound sense of grief and loss.
Those feelings are even more acute because the story of Wicked Grounds says so much about the state of San Francisco's sexual subculture. Just getting the café's doors open in 2009 was a community effort. Before the first coffee was poured, people volunteered their help to get the space into shape. Co-owner Ryan Galiotto (who was joined by his wife Rose White) acknowledges that they probably wouldn't have been able to open without that assistance.
But as much as that says something about the fundamental decency of our local pervs, the closing of Wicked Grounds also shows a real problem: Kinksters are fighting tooth and nail to keep community spaces. It's not just one coffeehouse. ...