Exotic dancers file claim against SDPD
Dancers who work at San Diego strip clubs are required by law to have a license. But twenty-five dancers who work at Cheetah's in Kearny Mesa say they were stripped of their legal rights by San Diego police.
“Lines were crossed. And it is time that we take a stand for what is right for us,” stated Cheetah's dancer Mary Radovich.
The complaint against the police department stems from an inspection on March 6th. Manager Rich Buonantony described how detectives in body armor entered the club.
“What happened is, the women were all brought in (the back)…”
And then, he says, the scantily-dressed dancers were told to line up against the lockers.
“The women had no problem with them getting their pictures taken and showing their work cards. It became where girls were asking questions of 'why do I have to do this' is when they wanted them to take different pictures of different positions of their anatomy, with their tattoos.”
“They not only did it with the girls with tattoos, they also did it with the girls with no tattoos,” continued Buonantony.
The club manager says police refused to give the dancers an explanation.
“They were either ignored, and removed – ya know, change in this direction, move in this direction – or they were told you have to go ahead and do this to comply.”
The lawyer who is filing the claim says police only had the right to inspect for I.D.s and over-stepped their authority by detaining the women when no crime had been committed.
“That's what they didn't understand. What did we do wrong? Why are we getting our pictures taken like this?” Recounted another Cheetah's representative.
San Diego's police chief stated the complaint hasn't been reviewed.
“It is a police-regulated business, and part of the muni-code is that we go in and we regulate, we conduct compliance checks,” said Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. “I haven't personally seen the complaint, but I'm sure we'll be looking at it.”
This is not the first time police have paid a visit to the club; the entertainers say there was a similar I.D. check in July.
“Just because we're in the adult entertainment business, doesn't give you the right to strip us of our rights,” said Radovich.
A spokesperson for the department says cataloguing tattoos is an important part of regulation. The dancers and their manager say they have no problem with following the law, as long as those who enforce the law respect it too.
“If they can take pictures of them in their bra and panties now, what's the next line? Is it a cavity search?” Queried Cheetah's representative.
“We shouldn't be treated any different than anyone else just because of what we do,” battled Radovich.
The claim by the dancers is the first step towards a lawsuit. If the police department denies the claim, the department could be sued. These allegations come as federal investigators begin their in-depth review of practices inside S.D.P.D.