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Weirton strip club's license revocation stands

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The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld a Kanawha County Circuit Court order affirming the state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration's decision to revoke the license of a Weirton strip club after its agents said they witnessed dancers having sex with patrons in the club's basement during an undercover compliance check three years ago.

Unlimited Ventures Inc., doing business as Rumorz, had appealed the revocation, claiming the ABCA hearing examiner's findings were "clearly erroneous and unsupported by the evidence" and that revocation was "an excessive penalty and was not justified" because the club had no prior violations. Owner and manager Anthony Cammel argued there was no proof any of his employees had been paid for sex or that he knew or should have known any illicit activity was taking place in his business.

But in a memorandum decision, the justices cited testimony from one of two undercover agents who said he was approached by an exotic dancer in July 2011 who asked him if he wanted to go to a private room with her and that one of the club's bouncers told him the woman would "rock his world." He also said the dancer told him all of their activities would be mutual "and that if they had sex, there must be protection."

Later that evening, the two agents returned with additional officers and witnessed two dancers having sex with patrons in private rooms in the club's basement.

Though they later recanted, initial statements from at least two of the dancers indicated "they engage in either sexual intercourse or other inappropriate sexual activity in the nightclub's private rooms and that half of the money earned is given to the nightclub."

"This Court concludes that the circuit court's findings were supported by the evidence and were not clearly wrong," the justice said in their ruling. "... The hearing examiner correctly found that petitioner's witnesses were not credible particularly as to their claims that they had no knowledge that exotic dancers employed at Rumorz were violating ABCA statutes and regulations, ‘including the actual accomplishment of sexual acts which would be considered inappropriate for public view and including entertaining in a state of undress in private rooms on the licensed premises.' ... Such violations are grounds for revocation of a private club license."