Fort Wayne’s only swingers club could shut down if ordinance passes

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Fort Wayne’s only swingers club may be shut down if Fort Wayne City Council approves two new ordinances. The bills will be introduced to council on Tuesday.

Last year, the City of Fort Wayne found itself in a lawsuit when they stopped a strip club from reopening and were sued. In the process, city administration found they had some vulnerabilities in their laws concerning sexually oriented businesses.

Fort Wayne’s attorney Carol Helton has drafted two ordinances that would regulate and license these businesses. The first one would ban live sex act businesses such as swingers clubs.

“We are only aware of one swingers club that is currently operating in Fort Wayne and that is the Champagne Club,” said city spokesman John Perlich. “These types of establishments do not enjoy the first amendment protection afforded to strip clubs and cities may ban them. There have been other swingers clubs prior to the Champagne Club and the City doesn’t want any more of these types of businesses to open.”

In a statement to WANE 15 News, Perlich said per the city’s legal counsel, “Live Sex Act Businesses are not protected under state or federal law. Sex acts that occur at these places open to the paying public increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. As the federal court explained in upholding a similar ordinance enacted by the City of Phoenix: ‘The legislative record indicates that undercover police officers witnessed dozens of individuals engaging in sexual intercourse and oral sex within the clubs, none of whom used condoms…. It is common knowledge that engaging in sexual intercourse and oral sex without the use of condoms place people at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. It is also common knowledge that combating the spread of such diseases is a critical public health concern.’ Recreational Developments, Inc. v. City of Phoenix (1999).”

The Champagne Club is located on the city’s southwest side at 2710 Nuttman Ave. City administration’s belief is that these businesses contribute to disease and should be considered a public nuisance.

WANE 15 asked the owner Eric Adams what he thinks about the ordinance. He said he would not comment, but that he does have an attorney. We also asked if we should expect him at Tuesday’s council meeting. Again, he replied no comment per his attorney’s advice.

The second ordinance being introduced would establish procedures and policies for licensing constitutionally protected sexual businesses such as strip clubs.

“Well it depends on how you look at them I guess,” said councilman John Crawford. “A lot of people in the community feel like it’s a bad influence on the city to have clubs like that. Some people say it’s not hurting anybody, don’t worry about it, but I think the majority of people in Fort Wayne would like us to at least regulate the number of these type of clubs, where they go and what hours they can operate and try to keep them under control.”

There won’t be a discussion on Tuesday’s council meeting, just a reading of the ordinances into the record. A discussion on the ordinances could occur at City Council’s meeting on Aug. 6.

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