ATC busts of Bourbon strip clubs highlight failed ordinance

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans council members want to toughen an ordinance governing how strip clubs do business after Alcohol Tobacco Control accused seven of allowing prostitution and drug dealing.

The city already has an ordinance on the books mandating strip club employees must be at least 21, but the law fails to define what happens to businesses that break the law.

"There was no one enforcing the law," Covenant House Executive Director Jim Kelly said. "In essence, the ordinance that we past 27 years ago, and I'll take the blame for that, didn't have consequences."

Kelly worked with council members decades ago to pass the ordinance.

Thursday, councilman Jason Williams introduced an ordinance to deal with the enforcement.

"By allowing 18-21 year olds to work in strip clubs it poses a challenge for enforcement officers, who then have to investigate who is actually working as a dancer and who is not. This change in the law creates a clear rule whereby no one under 21 years old can work in a strip club," Williams said.

ATC suspended the alcohol licenses of Lipstixx, Scores, Centerfolds, The Mansion on Bourbon, Chez Joey's, Dixie Divas, Big Daddy's and Babes Cabaret after undercover agents say employees offered and took payments for drugs and sex on several different occasions

"A lot of this crime it's kind of like a garden. It's growing around here," ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert said. "We need to make sure the French Quarter is not a one stop shop for crime."

"25 years ago we called it child prostitution. Today, we call it human trafficking. No matter what we call it, it's horrendous and it shouldn't be happening in our city and on our streets," Kelly said.

Council will vote on the ordinance to better define a punishment next month.

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