When three undercover vice officers went to Houston’s Fantasy Plaza strip club last June, they were on the lookout for a 16-year-old runaway.
And sure enough, one of the officers spotted a dancer on June 10 who looked strikingly similar to pictures he had seen of the missing teen, according to a police report. But the officer was “unsure” it was her, the police report said, so the officer requested a $40 private dance with her, the Houston Chronicle reports.
As the girl gave the officer a topless lap dance — straddling him, simulating intercourse and pressing him with her breasts — the vice officer said in a police report that he was “able to observe a small mole on her upper middle chest area below her collar bone which was consistent with the photographs officers had been provided,” the Chronicle reports.
The teen girl was then detained by police and taken from the club, the Chronicle reports.
But an attorney representing the strip club, Albert Van Huff, told the newspaper that he thinks the officers’ tactics at the club are suspect.
“You send a couple of Vice officers in there and they spend a couple of hours drinking and watching the girls, they have to justify why they’re there with a couple of cases and that’s what they’ll do,” Van Huff told the Chronicle.
On Twitter, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo defended the officers and said he was proud of their work — which he said “removed her from a horrific set of circumstances & reunited her with her mother.”
Van Huff also filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the city on Feb. 1, Courthouse News Service reports, alleging that the city has given preferential treatment to 16 other strip clubs in Houston, all of which have agreed to pay into a city fund that fights human trafficking.
In exchange, those 16 clubs don’t have to adhere to strict city rules that prohibit dancers from coming within three feet of patrons and touching patrons.
“Because Fantasy Plaza must abide by city law, it cannot compete for customers in the same manner as these competitors, which has caused and will continue to cause Fantasy Plaza to lose business and, ultimately, to fail,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit accuses the city and the 16 strip clubs of engaging in an “illegal commercial bribery scheme” by reaching the agreement to allow touching at only some clubs in the city.
“City officials have characterized the clubs that were not part of the settlement as ‘rogue clubs’ that needed to be shut down,” the lawsuit says, according to Courthouse News Service.
And that’s exactly what’s happened to Fantasy Plaza, KRTK reports: A judge ordered the strip club to shutter its doors this week after a city complaint called it a “common nuisance” for violating a laundry list of rules — from allowing dancers within three feet of customers, to not firing employees who were convicted of felonies.
The judge’s order came following a series of recent arrests and crimes, including prostitution, that have been linked to the club, KTRK reports.
There have been more than 30 arrests at Fantasy Plaza since 2014, Assistant county attorney Rosemarie Donnelly wrote in a petition, according to the Chronicle.