Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Exotic dancer sues Blue Ash

Says rights violated by arrest at hotel

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Exotic dancer Regina Haggard celebrated the second anniversary of her constitutional confrontation on Monday by suing Blue Ash, claiming the town violated her rights.

        Ms. Haggard was hired by a woman to do a “bra and panty” dance for her husband at his private birthday party Nov. 22, 1997, in a hotel banquet room.

        “It was a surprise,” Ms. Haggard recalled Tuesday. She danced in the middle of the group while wives and husbands laughed and cheered and the guest of honor tried to hide his embarrassment.

        “That's why wives do it, to embarrass,” Ms. Haggard said. “Wives call every day.”

        Ms. Haggard danced for 30 minutes, shedding her holiday red suit and finishing in G-string and bra. She collected her $85 fee and was arrested as she left the hotel because she lacked a Blue Ash municipal “escort” license.

        It was her first arrest on any charge, said her attorney, Paul M. Laufman. “She did not even know that the licensing requirement existed.”

        Last December, Judge Cheryl Grant of Hamilton County Municipal Court dismissed the charge over prosecution claims that stripping to a G-string and bra was not a constitutionally protected activity.

        The judge said the ordinance was an unconstitutional prior restraint on expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment.

        Ms. Haggard said she is dancing less because of the Blue Ash arrest, pat-down by a female officer and detention for hours at the police station.

        “I'm kind of afraid to. ... It makes you feel horrible. It makes you feel like a common criminal for doing my job. I'm kind of pulling away from it because of this.”

        Blue Ash dropped its appeal before a decision was handed down and amended its ordinance to meet Judge Grant's criticism.

        Mr. Laufman filed the civil rights suit in U.S. District Court on Monday, seeking unspecified damages for the 31-year-old Ludlow resident.

        Blue Ash tried to regulate exotic dancing in 1997, making it illegal to act as an “escort” without a license.

        The law defined escort as “any person who for monetary consideration in the form of a fee, commission or salary, is held out to the public as being available for hire to consort with or to accompany another person to social affairs, functions, events, or engagements, places of amusement, entertainment, or other establishment open to the public, or within any private quarters or establishment.”


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