Battle between county and Treasures strip club continues in court

September 6, 2012 3:49:29 PM PDT
We have the latest developments now in a battle between the county and a local strip club accused of being a nuisance.

County and city leaders want Treasures shut down, saying it's a haven for drugs, prostitution, and human trafficking.

We expect a judge to decide soon whether Treasures can be considered a public nuisance and whether it should be shut down. One thing the judge must consider is whether club owners did anything to limit the amount of prostitution and drug sales there.

Located near the Galleria, the Treasures strip club has been in business since 1995. According to court documents, there have been 43 arrests there between 2008 and May of this year. Among them, allegations of prostitution, and delivery of a controlled substance.

The city and county say this proves that some people habitually go to Treasures seeking out sex and drugs.

"They're not doing anything about it. It continues to go on," said Sr. Assistant Harris Co. Attorney Fred Keys Jr.

But an attorney representing Treasures argued in court that the case the city and county have alleged is legally insufficient.

Tanya Garrison, attorney for Treasures, told the judge, "They have failed to put in any evidence that proves habit."

Attorneys for the county and city argued that the cases date back more than three years. That if nothing else, that alone proves the club an ongoing nuisance. Our legal analyst however says that's not enough.

"These statistics over four years show me that the place has problems; it's not a common nuisance," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.

Judge Alexandra Smoot-Hogan ordered us not to show any of the dancers set to testify, saying it could threaten their safety and security.

Treasures Manager George Marino testified Thursday that the club has a zero tolerance policy, and that dancers would be terminated if they even agreed to be involved in drugs or prostitution.

Treasures has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and county, claiming civil rights violations. They say officials are retaliating against the club because Treasures fought and won the right not to be considered a sexually oriented business.


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