Jury seated in swingers club case

October 28, 2008 10:23:26 AM PDT
A man accused of running a swingers club in a suburban Dallas neighborhood advertised his house online as The Cherry Pit, showing photos of a bar with panties hanging above it and a room with six beds joined together, the prosecutor in his trial contended Monday. Jim Trulock, 59, faces 10 citations in municipal court -- five alleging he operated a business in a residential neighborhood and five alleging he operated a sexually oriented business without a license.

Prosecutors are seeking fines of $2,000 for each of the sexually oriented business charges and $500 for each of the business in a residential neighborhood counts.

"This is not a case about the swinging lifestyle. This is a case about a business, a sexually oriented business in a neighborhood," city prosecutor Kim Lafferty said during opening statements.

Trulock has pleaded not guilty to all 10 counts of the citations, which were issued in late 2007 and early 2008. His defense attorneys opted to make their opening statement after the prosecution presents its case.

Trulock runs the Cherry Pit with Julie M. Norris on weekends from their house, where they host parties for swingers.

A Web site for the Cherry Pit includes pictures of the home's interior, including the bar, a large hottub and the beds. The prosecutor said events such as Stripping with the Swingers and Trimming the Naughty Christmas Tree are advertised.

City officials noted that the Cherry Pit accepts money from guests and promotes the parties on its Web site.

But defense attorney Ed Klein contends authorities cannot prove Trulock was responsible for the advertising billing his home as a sex club.

Attorneys for Trulock say the Cherry Pit is a private residence where a group of friends get together on weekends to socialize in whatever way they prefer. Guests are encouraged to make voluntary donations to cover the cost of food and refreshments, but organizers deny that anyone is being charged admission to his parties.

The trial was expected to last into at least Tuesday.

It took several hours Monday to seat a jury of six -- four men and two women. Several in the potential jury pool said they felt a sexually oriented business should not be allowed in Duncanville.

"Something labeled a cherry pit that's not a fruit stand should not be here," one woman said during jury selection. She was not chosen for the jury.

Later in the afternoon, at least five witnesses chose not to testify, invoking their 5th Amendment right to not incriminate themselves.

A handful of witnesses testified about attending gatherings in the home, where they saw a stripper pole in one room and pornographic films were shown. They were asked by attorneys for both sides whether a $50 donation was required or voluntary.

"Well, when we got there we had to pay 50 dollars or we weren't going in," testified Lawrence DeFler.

But DeFler later read from a waiver he signed before entering the home which said, "There's never a fee charged or cost for attending."

Police also arrested Trulock, and Norris, 30, on suspicion of engaging in organized criminal activity, a first-degree felony carries a penalty from five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000. The two were released from jail on $20,000 bond each.

Both were also arrested last month on suspibelcion of violating the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code for allegedly possessing large amounts of liquor in their home.

Duncanville's City Council passed an ordinance banning sexually oriented businesses.

Trulock and Norris have a civil case pending against the city challenging the ordinance.

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