Flashdancer Cabaret’s license to operate as an adult business should be revoked because its owners filed a misleading application with the city and because the north Arlington strip club allowed “rampant” sexual contact on its premises, an attorney representing the city argued at a hearing Friday.
Dallas lawyer Tom Brandt used the testimony of three Arlington police vice squad members, four video clips showing sex or prohibited touching at the club and other evidence to build his case that Flashdancer’s sexually oriented business license should be revoked.
The club, at 520 N. Watson Road, ceased operations for a year in mid-January under an agreement it reached with the city and the Texas attorney general’s office to end a lawsuit. As part of the settlement, Flashdancer can maintain its lease and reapply for a license from the city if it chooses to reopen.
The club’s license expired Feb. 6, and it has applied for a renewal, but city officials have not acted on that request because the revocation process for the previous license has not been completed.
Steven Swander, the attorney for Flashdancer, argued at the hearing Friday that because the business was closed and the previous license had expired, the hearing should have been about granting or rejecting a new license. He took issue with the fact that the city mailed its notice to revoke the license on Feb. 2, days before the license expired, and sent it to the club’s address knowing that the business was closed.
He called three witnesses, including owner Ronald Grant, whose son’s relationship with the club was mischaracterized on Flashdancer’s license application for the year of Feb. 7, 2011, to Feb. 6, 2012, city officials say. The application listed Ryan Grant as a shareholder and not the general manager, as he was listed on previous and subsequent applications.
When Assistant City Attorney Kathleen Weisskopf contacted Ronald Grant about the issue, he responded that Ryan Grant wasn’t overseeing day-to-day operations. But Ryan Grant himself later testified in a deposition that he acted as the general manager, serving as “the managers’ manager,” Bryant told Deputy Police Chief Lauretta Hill, who will rule on the revocation request.
During one sequence of questioning Friday, Ronald Grant repeatedly changed his answers, saying that because of injuries suffered in a 2010 car crash, his son was physically incapable of being the general manager, then saying he was capable, then saying he didn’t know.
“How are your answers consistent?” Brandt asked Ronald Grant at the end of the exchange.
“I guess I am being inconsistent,” Grant replied. “As far as I’m concerned, he is capable.”
Brandt also used video clips taken from security camera footage to show Ryan Grant having sex in the office as a manager sat just a few feet away and dancers rubbing themselves provocatively over customers seated in the “VIP area.” It is unlawful for any physical contact between seminude dancers and their patrons.
The three clips of the dancers and customers, taken at different times of day and on different days of the week, showed that such behavior was typical, Brandt said. Testimony from the undercover officers backed that up.
Swanson challenged the video footage, arguing vigorously that the original search warrant was for drug transactions and that using it to find evidence for something else was not what the judge signed off on. Later, however, the vice squad sergeant testified that detectives waited to get another search warrant before reviewing the footage.
State and city officials have called Flashdancer a nuisance property rife with drugs, prostitution, aggravated assaults and other criminal activity.
According to court records, the state reported that Flashdancer was the site of 25 or more controlled-substance violations and 15 or more Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission violations since May 2008 and that club management “knowingly tolerated or participated in such acts and has failed to make reasonable attempts to abate the activity.”
Arlington police also reported aggravated assaults and shootings there, records show.Patrick M. Walker