Category Archives: Sexually Oriented Business

Human Trafficking – Closer than you think!

Policy RadarCCV partners with Statewide Coalition to battle Human Trafficking

What is it?

The fight against human trafficking is not just something that happens over there, wherever “there” is. It is found everywhere we look.

In the home…

Domestic servitude

On the streets…

Prostitution, truck stop solicitation, panhandling

Behind the door…

Massage parlors, Adult (strip) clubs, brothels, pornography

Among respectable businesses…

Sweatshops, construction, tourist industry, agriculture

The U.S. State Department has estimated that between 14,500 – 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. annually . Half of this number are children. In the Midwest prostitution, saunas, health clubs, strip clubs, escort services, and brothels to migrant workers are the predominant activities.

Ohio has become a significant hub of activity for human trafficking. Why? Geography and demographics. Lake Erie allows trafficking to move from Canada while the various interstate corridors allow movement of victims to cities throughout the country. The large number of colleges and military bases also contribute to this increase. Cleveland and Columbus have been identified as major cities popular among johns seeking Asian massage parlors acting as fronts for brothels. Toledo has been identified by the FBI as one of the top recruiting centers in the country for underage prostitution.

Linda Smith, founder of Shared Hope International, writes “Young girls are being sold at truck stops, strip joints, massage parlors, and often out of homes”. Kathleen Davis, who serves as the Ohio Director for the Polaris Project authored a report titled Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery in Ohio. In describing what people are trafficked for, she lists “commercial sexual exploitation, exotic dancing, stripping, and pornography”.

Human trafficking is many times confused with human smuggling. Under U.S. Code 1227, smuggling is defined as “knowingly [having] encouraged, induced, assisted, abetted or aided any other alien to enter or try to enter the United States.”

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 defines human trafficking. The Polaris Project has put together a simple matrix to understand the broad scope of this definition. These elements (AMP) include:

The Action to…

recruit, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, subject

By Means of …

force, fraud, coercion, physical restraint, debt bondage, withholding documents, serious harm

For the Purpose of…

commercial sex act / labor or services – resulting in slavery, peonage, or involuntary servitude

Several myths are destroyed in this defining language:

  • Many trafficked persons in the U.S. are legal citizens
  • Trafficking does NOT require transportation across any state or national borders.
  • Prior consent or payment is not relevant (just because you agreed to come and/or were paid does not mean it is NOT trafficking).
  • Human trafficking does NOT require physical restraint (may only be psychological)

 

What is being done?

As CCV has battled the problems of sexually-oriented businesses for decades, they have recognized that human trafficking is one of the primary “feeders” that drive women and young girls into the sex industry. Many other national groups are also addressing this connection.

A press conference was held on July 31st in Columbus to announce a new coalition effort in Central Ohio. Rescue and Restore, a national outreach led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has helped establish 20 other coalitions around the country. They seek to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, including law enforcement, health and social services, non-profits, faith-based organizations, legal aid groups, and others interested in eradicating this form of slavery. The primary tools to accomplish this goal are outreach, education, and victim assistance.

Members of this coalition are receiving training by various advocacy groups (Rescue and Restore, Polaris Project, Catholic Conference, and the Department of Justice). This training includes:

  • Increased public awareness
  • Provide training to various advocacy and social service groups
  • Develop outreach materials to educate the general public
  • Provide access to 24/7 hotlines for victim assistance
  • Identify and assist victims
  • Learn to ask the right questions to possible victim, get beyond the “coached” answers
  • Provide needed services (legal, health, and social care)
  • Identify temporary housing to provide a safe haven for victims

 

Further coalition meetings and advanced training will be occurring in the coming months. Also, many coalition members are beginning to meet and share about networking, resource development, and victim assistance services expertise.

How can I learn more?

Rescue and Restore
www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking
1-888-3737-888

Kathleen Davis, Ohio Director
Polaris Project
www.polarisproject.org
[email protected]

Shared Hope
www.sharedhope.org

Be Careful What You Sign

PlayPlay

In order to be clear up front we are letting you know the following;

If you favor the implementation of the Community Defense Act, the law which forces strip clubs with liquor licenses to close at midnight and makes it a crime for a non-family member to touch a nude dancer while she is working, then DO NOT SIGN ANY PETITIONS BEING CIRCULATED. Despite what you are being told, THE PETITIONS ARE NOT TO REGULATE STRIP CLUBS THEY ARE TO STOP THE REGULATION OF STRIP CLUBS!

At least two major news outlets are reporting that petitioners collecting signatures for a referendum which would stop the implementation of SB 16, the Community Defense Act (CDA) are lying to voters to obtain their signatures. A front group formed by strip club owners calling itself Citizens For Community Standards began the petition drive shortly after the CDA was passed and allowed to go into law without Governor Strickland’s signature. The CDA is a bill which regulates the operating hours of strip clubs with liquor licenses and creates a “no-touch” zone around nude dancers which effectively prohibits so-called “lap dances.”

Ohio Public Radio reporter Bill Cohen broke the story and filed 2 reports which include audio of the fraudulent collection presentation by petitioners. The first report is Some on petitions to change new strip club rules may be surprised at what they’ve signed. This first report is a review of what the petition drive is all about. Most importantly, it is damning evidence of outright fraud through misrepresenting the purpose of the petition in getting signatures by petitioners. It is clear from the interviews that petition signers do not understand that they have signed a petition which causes the law to not go into effect until a referendum is held.

The second is Strip club owners, “values voters” group react to petition drive to change new rules on clubs. In this report you will hear spokesman for Citizens For Community Standards, Sandy Theis, attempt to explain away the fraud by saying that the issue is “inherently confusing” and that they didn’t “hire lawyers” to take signatures.

The Columbus Dispatch has also run a story titled Strip-club law: Petition collectors deceptive, some say in which they also document clear fraud by petitioners, in which potential signers were told that petitions were to “close strip clubs at midnight.” The article contains another quote from Sandy Theis who says circulators are “not intentionally misleading anybody. We’ve trained and retrained the circulators.” Really? What would you call telling a deliberate lie to get a signature, Ms. Theis? An inoperative statement, perhaps? A serial misunderstanding being repeated throughout the state? What script were the circulators trained on and is it possible that having been promised $15-20 per hour the circulators were finding out that the only way to actually meet those figures was to lie to the public because the other approach got them turned down too often? And what does this say for the prospects of passing this referendum if, by some miracle, the Citizens For Community Standards succeed in defrauding enough registered voters to get the required number of valid signatures? You can’t get that done by asking 14 year-olds to sign, as the circulator in the Dispatch story did.

These questions are only the beginning of what smart journalists should be asking. Why are news outlets treating the cease and desist trademark infringement letter from Citizens For Community Values (CCV, the family values group which got the CDA through the legislature) to Citizens For Community Standards (CCS) as if it’s inconsequential? The Dispatch‘s coverage is typical. They’re calling it the “name game.” But why hasn’t this raised questions in journalist’s minds? In the light of the clear fraud being perpetrated by the petitioners shouldn’t they be at least thinking about why a name so close to CCV’s would have been chosen? Wouldn’t a reasonable person, in the light of CCS activities in collecting signatures, at least consider the possibility that the name was chosen in order to deceive voters into thinking they were signing petitions being circulated by CCV, a group which has a proven track record in successful referendum and ballot issue drives in the recent past?

Another question, in light of the tacit admission by the individual circulators that sufficient signatures cannot be gathered ethically, is why CCS is going through with this dog-and-pony show of continuing to take signatures? Is it possible that is merely a delaying tactic? When insufficient valid signatures are turned in, is it not possible that CCS is counting on using the maximum allowable time before the ballot access deadline for a fall referendum, and that then they plan to drop an injunction stopping the implementation of the law anyway, when the effort is finally ruled to have fallen short by the Ohio Secretary of State? Keep in mind that this tactics could stretch actual implementation of the law into next year! Where is journalistic curiosity in this matter?

Since CCS has stated that there will eventually be legal action taken, it is important that as much evidence of fraud be collected as possible. If you’ve been approached by a petition circulator in the last few weeks and asked to sign a petition that would close strip clubs at midnight, regulate strip clubs, make it illegal to touch dancers, etc. we would like to hear about it. Please let the Institute For Principled Policy know at this email address. There’s no shame in being deceived or lied to. We just need to know.

Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Columbus Dispatch

A recent commentary in the Columbus Dispatch is a nearly textbook illustration of the biblical warning that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). In this case the man is a woman, the context of the passage making clear that man is the generic “mankind” rather than the specific gender identifier. The commenter is Ann Fisher and the article is entitled Protest billboards with power of the dollar.

First let us congratulate Ms. Fisher for being right on in some of her analysis. The core of the commentary is about the billboards posted all over Columbus advertising a local radio station with a picture of an abundantly endowed female chest in a sleeveless t-shirt which advises us to listen to their station and “pray for rain”, thus making it a wet t-shirt. Aside from the clear dilemma presented by this advice (asking God to make this woman’s t-shirt wet so that men can act lustfully towards her really doesn’t square with the biblical idea that we should all treat the opposite sex with the respect he or she deserves as the image bearer of the Creator) there is the clear appeal to the prurient interests of travelers which has the potential of creating a serious traffic hazard (if you have seen this billboard then you understand).

Ms. Fisher correctly draws a connection between these billboards and the rather cavalier attitude allegedly exhibited by some Columbus Police officers who are accused of using the billboard as an example for a young woman trying to keep her boyfriend from being arrested. She accuses them of coercing her to expose her chest to them in exchange for letting him go, which she alleges she did, and that they honored her action (after defiling her body and making photographic evidence against themselves with a camera phone). Fisher also calls for a boycott of the station’s sponsors saying that the consumers have the power to make them stop the billboard campaign. More on this later.

But now we come to the rather obvious problems with Ms. Fisher’s addled analysis of the larger picture (so to speak). She says that the billboards and the accused policeman’s activities makes Columbus seem “unsophisticated.” It would be interesting to know how Ms. Fisher defines “sophistication.” She displays a very liberal “sophistication” in contradicting the head of the Lucas county YWCA, Lisa McDuffie who called attention to the plight of local strippers while rejecting the money from strip clubs that the Lucas county Democrats collected from the fundraiser. Fisher writes that “Those women don’t want or need our pity. They were just doing their jobs…” One wonders how “sophisticated” Ms. Fisher’s view would be if it were to be suggested to her that drug dealers and cigarette company executives were “only doing their jobs’ and that it is really those despicable addicts who buy the products that are the real problem. We can presume that the answer would be “not very.” Fisher is also apparently oblivious to the fact that the Lucas county YWCA chief is only too aware of the sad side effects of the sex trade and its connections with human trafficking, a serious problem that the Toledo area is very familiar with. McDuffie was right to refuse the strip club donation profits and she was right to call for Lucas county Democratic leadership to become enlightened as to the reasons why.

It is at this point that Ms. Fisher seems to realize that she is walking a high-wire over a yawning chasm with no net. She sighs aloud that the radio station owners “…correctly wrap themselves in the free-speech portion of the U.S. Constitution…” Correctly? While it is a very “sophisticated” interpretation of the first amendment which says that obscenity (and while the billboards may not meet the technical definition the average viewer will probably consider them to be obscene) is “protected speech.” The framers never intended it to protect pornography, soft, hard or otherwise, vile language or public lewdness. It was designed to foster and protect public debate of political issues. The expansion of “free-speech and expression” protections to lewd behavior and obscenity date back only to the early 1960’s. Why point this out and what makes Ms. Fisher’s call for boycotts of radio stations (media competitors) while creating a convenient artificial shield in the Constitution hypocritical? Because her employer, the Columbus Dispatch, collects money by the virtual wheelbarrow full every year from strip (“gentlemen’s”) clubs, massage parlors, adult toy and book shops, escort services, S/M dungeons, by-the-hour motels, prostitutes, etc. in both column and classified ads. Some preliminary analyses indicate that the Dispatch’s various revenues from the sex trade approach or exceed $1 million yearly. Thus, it’s clear that the donkey is calling the pig “long ears” at the top of its voice. Quite sophisticated, indeed.

Ms. Fisher digs this hole even deeper in attempting to make a hero of Democratic State Party Chairman and State Representative Chris Redfern in the recent Lucas county dust up involving the Lucas county Democratic party golf fund raiser where local strip clubs made party donations and provided strippers as “cart girls.” Again, we see the same pretzel logic with the strippers as demonstrated previously. They are merely plying their trade. It’s the customers who should be the target of our disgust. Everyone involved either denied that the strippers engaged in their trade or expressed outrage that they did so, thus exposing the disingenuousness of the deniers. The Toledo Blade has run a very informative series of stories on this, drudging up a great deal of information and eclipsing other state papers’ dismal coverage of an important story. You can click the links below for details.

Democratic Party treasurer teed off over golf outing’s strippers
Resignation of party boss sought for having strippers at golf fund-raiser
McNamara, Irish spar over strippers
Democrats’ scandal over strippers spills into city committee meeting
Council candidate rejects strip club’s $50 donation
Dems still squabbling over stripper scandal
Party hit by fallout from golf scandal
Lucas County Democratic chief resists calls to resign over stripper
Irish resigns as chairman of Democrats over scandal involving strippers
Lucas County Dems’ new leader slams party rivals



But what makes this part of the story so interesting is the lionization of Redfern for threatening to cut off funding for the Lucas county party leadership who allowed the strippers to attend the event when both he and Toledo area State Senator Teresa Fedor voted against SB 16, the Community Defense Act (CDA), a law which regulates strip clubs. Senator Fedor went so far as to stand in support of a group of professional strippers calling themselves the Dancers For Democracy, giving a speech in their support at their press conference. On the floor of the Senate she stood in opposition to portions of the bill that would prohibit customers having physical contact with dancers, the so-called lap dance prohibition. Probably the most laughable quote, one which exposes the utter hypocrisy of Senator Fedor is in the article Lucas County Democratic chief resists calls to resign over stripper wherein Fedor is quoted as having said “…the reported activity of a woman baring her body to some golfers was the last straw for her” followed by a letter to the Lucas county Democratic Party Chairman in which she wrote “Your egregious decision in staffing the golf outing is disrespectful to all women, to Democrats, to Toledo, and to the state of Ohio…” And what of your decision to vote against a bill that would regulate the behavior you pretend to abhor and to stand with women who allow their bodies to be exploited for profit, Senator Fedor?

Apparently both Redfern and Fedor oppose local governments being able to regulate adult business activities but have vowed to enforce a much stricter standard at Democratic party events. This hypocritical demonstration of political logrolling in the guise of mock outrage (read the last 3 articles on the list and you’ll find that the Lucas county Democratic Party ballet is more about control of the party than the strippers at a party event, about which Redfern and Fedor couldn’t really care less if their Ohio House and Senate votes mean anything) show the intricate dance amongst the cow patties that politicians are willing to perform in order to cover their duplicity. And also to what lengths members of the press are willing to go to make the same politicians look like defenders of the Constitution. Especially when they profit from the trade the politicians are working to protect.

By the way Republicans, you shouldn’t feel too superior based on this incident. There are plenty of GOP legislative peccadilloes connected with the passage of the CDA. Had Republicans including leadership in the Ohio Senate not bowed to the tremendous pressure applied by the strip club owners in the 2006 legislative session, the (CDA) would not have required a petition drive aimed at a referendum to force the legislative replacement of the enforcement “teeth” removed by that body.

Finally, Fisher ends her cognitive dissonance tour de force with the following logically sound appeal which she carefully and self-servingly applies only to the radio station billboards but which could just as conveniently apply to the adult business advertising in the Dispatch; “…If they bother you, forget the city, forget the station managers. Go to the sponsors. They aren’t emotionally attached to smarmy, sexist and degrading crap, but they speak profit margin fluently. That’s the American way.” We couldn’t agree more. Thanks to the editorial staff of the Columbus Dispatch for making it crystal clear what needs to be done to solve a growing problem.

Detailed Report On The Community Defense Act- SB 16

Policy RadarBACKGROUND
Prior to the passage of H.B. 23 in 2006, the 1,308 townships in Ohio had very little authority to address the problems associated with sexually oriented businesses within their jurisdiction. H.B. 23 simply extended to every political subdivision in the state the necessary home rule authority to do so according to the specific needs of each community.

The House-passed version of H.B. 23 on a vote of 92-5 not only included the home rule authority for townships but also statewide standards for all sexually oriented businesses regarding their hours of operation and the distance required between employees and patrons. The Senate-passed version of H.B. 23 removed the statewide standards, and then was concurred and accepted by the House.

PURPOSE
Numerous studies identifying the adverse secondary effects of this industry point to a compelling state interest for these two statewide standards. Therefore, in response to a voter-initiated petition bearing the signatures of over 220,000 Ohio citizens, the Secretary of State on January 2, 2007 transmitted to the General Assembly a bill entitled the “Community Defense Act” (CDA) in accordance with constitutional guidelines for such.

Passage of CDA will set minimum standards for adult businesses in Ohio to ensure that the industry will be regulated in order to eliminate or mitigate their negative effects of-

  • increased crime (sexual crimes, prostitution, illegal drugs, etc.),
  • decreased property values of the surrounding residential and business property,
  • and the devastation brought to so many marriages and families.

Townships certainly will want to do everything within their power to take advantage of the authority given them by H.B. 23 to address those problems within their jurisdiction. But the affect of such regulations could be greatly diminished by adjacent communities that do not have at least these two regulations in place.

NARROWLY TAILORED
The focus of CDA is to place two regulations on all sexually oriented businesses, establishing a uniform minimum industry standard in Ohio law to address the problems associated with sexually oriented businesses.

Numerous government studies (available upon request from Citizens For Community Values) have documented adverse secondary effects associated with sexually oriented businesses. These include the following:

  1. Increased crime, especially, but not limited to, crimes of a sexual nature;
  2. Decreased property values, both residential and commercial; and
  3. Urban blight, the general downgrading of the surrounding areas.

Less well documented but undeniable and equally deleterious to Ohio’s communities are the adverse effects that sexually oriented businesses too often have on the marriages and families of those who frequent them. Considerable direct and indirect costs are attached to the breakdown of marriages, the dismantling of families, and the accompanying loss of individual productivity.

Although the passage of CDA would provide a statewide minimum standard for sexually oriented businesses, the bill continues to allow local communities to extend regulations farther than state law to address issues specific to each locality.

COURT APPROVED STANDARDS
Regularly, local communities in Ohio are forced to deal with the problems of adult businesses. Many spend years and countless thousands of taxpayer dollars to defend common sense regulatory protections challenged by this industry. CDA will help alleviate this burden on local governments and local budgets. The United States Supreme Court, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and other federal courts have consistently upheld the rights of governments to implement the two regulations of this proposed legislation:

  1. Employees who regularly appear nude or semi-nude would be required to maintain a six-foot (6’) distance from patrons while on the premises. Violation of this provision is a first-degree misdemeanor. Cases that support this distance requirement include:
    • DLS, Inc. v. City of Chattanooga, 107 F.3d 403 (6th Cir. 1997)
    • Kentucky Restaurant Concepts, Inc. v. City of Louisville and Jefferson County, 209 Fed. Supp. 2d 672 (W. D. Ky 2002)
    • Gammoh v. City of La Habra, 395 f.3d 1114 (9th Cir. 2005)

  2. Sexually oriented businesses would be required to remain closed between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 am, with the exception of those holding a liquor permit, which may remain open until the hour specified in their permit, but which may not offer adult entertainment between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 am. Violation of this provision is a first-degree misdemeanor. Cases that support hours of operation regulation include:
    • Richland Bookmart, Inc. v. Nichols, 278 F3d 570 (6th Cir. 2002);
    • Ctr. For Fair Public Policy v. Maricopa County, 336 F.3d 1153 (9th Cir. 2003).

OTHER APPLICABLE CASE LAW
See FULL TEXT OF PROPOSED LAW, §3768.03 Rationale and findings; construction for expanded list of cases and studies. Noteworthy cases include:

  • City of Erie v. Pap’s AM 529 US 277 (2000)
  • City of Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc. 475 US 41 (1986)
  • Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. 501 US 560 (1991)
  • Déjà Vu of Cincinnati, LLC v. Union Township Board of Trustees, 411 F.3d 777 (6th Cir. 2005, en banc)
  • Bamon Corp. v. City of Dayton 923 F.2d 470 (6th Cir. 1991)

OTHER STATE LAWS ALREADY ON THE BOOKS
Several states already have statewide regulations in place to regulate sexually oriented businesses including Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Rules similar to CDA exist in the following states:

  • Delaware: Hours of operation limited to 10:00am–10:00pm, Mon-Sat, no Sundays or state holidays
  • Arizona: Hours of operation limited to 8:00am–1:00am, Mon-Sat, 12:00noon-1:00am Sundays
  • Tennessee: No full nudity allowed on premises, 6ft distance required between performers and patrons, employees must be licensed, no direct tipping or touching allowed

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Bills that come before the General Assembly by voter-initiative have a limited time for consideration. The Legislature has a four-month period in which to pass, amend, vote down or ignore the bill, in this case from January 2 – May 1, 2007.

If the action taken by the Legislature is not acceptable to the committee representing the petitioners, the committee may collect additional signatures on a supplemental petition equal in number to those required on the first submission – 120,688 registered voters. Supplemental signers cannot have signed the first petition and the petitions must be submitted within 90 days starting May 2. If a sufficient number of signatures are validated, the bill will be submitted to the voters on the next general election ballot for approval or rejection.

WHAT’S THE BILL’S STATUS AND WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The current status of this bill is that it has been passed by a very wide margin in the Ohio Senate. It is currently in the House Ohio House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Louis Blessing (R)-Cincinnati. The bill passed by the Senate is currently in jeopardy in the Judiciary Committee and Chairman Blessing is wavering on his commitment to move the bill substantially intact to the House floor. House leadership, which assured pro-family leaders only two weeks ago that the bill would pass the House unchanged, are now buckling under intense pressure from strip club lobbying firms. They threaten to amend the bill to the point where it is made a toothless shadow of its intended design. Please contact Chairman Blessing, and the Ohio House of Representatives leadership, House Speaker Jon Husted, Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Dewine, Majority Floor Leader Larry Flowers, Assistant Majority Floor Leader Jim Carmichael, House Majority Whip Bill Seitz, and House Assistant Majority Whip Michelle Schneider.

Please contact your representative and House leadership no later than the afternoon of Monday May 14! Ask them, firmly but politely, to pass the Senate version of the bill. As always a letter or phone call is best! Faxes and emails are often ignored or shredded by representatives and staffers.

If the House defangs this legislation, and it appears likely that they will, be prepared to volunteer to pass petitions at your churches, civic groups, etc.