- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Prince George’s County government is facing a federal lawsuit for the second time in three months over sweeping new rules to crack down on its adult-entertainment industry.

International Nite Life Entertainment Inc. stated in a recent lawsuit that the rules are unconstitutional and will result in “a blanket prohibition of adult entertainment in Prince George’s County.”

The company runs the Classics III Supper Club in Camp Springs and is the fourth adult-entertainment business to sue the county over the recently enacted strip-club legislation.

Three businesses joined in a lawsuit against the county filed in federal court in Greenbelt in August, and International Nite Life sued in the same court on Oct. 3.

At issue are a host of rules expected to take effect as soon as today governing how and when strip clubs can operate. The regulations include a mandatory-licensing system for strippers, earlier closing times, security requirements and a ban on giving tips to dancers.

Under those rules, dancers have to pay the county $200 a year for a license. And applications must include proof of identification and stage names or nicknames used during performances.

Violations carry potential criminal penalties, including up to six months in prison and fines of up to $1,000 for each breach.

International Nite Life attorney Jimmy Bell stated in court documents that the company will “suffer severe financial harm” from the new rules.

County officials previously declined to comment on litigation stemming from the strip-club crackdown.

However, Prince George’s officials have argued in legal filings that the rules may help counter declining property values and criminal activities, such as prostitution and drug dealing, that some community activists have linked to adult entertainment.

U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow last month refused to block enforcement of the rules after three strip clubs sought a temporary restraining order.

The Nico Banquet Hall in Camp Springs, Bazz and Crue in Forestville and the Showcase Theater in Beltsville sued the county in August, challenging the constitutionality of the laws.

Calling the rules “sweeping and devastating,” attorneys for the three clubs had hoped to keep the regulations from being enforced until the court decides the case.

International Nite Life also has filed for a restraining order, but no ruling has been made on the request.

The new rules come months after community opposition forced owners of a strip club to halt plans to relocate from Hyattsville to the outskirts of Laurel. The proposed relocation was next to a church.

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