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. ...
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