(CN) – A Baltimore strip club should not lose its liquor license because an employee solicited sex from an undercover police officer, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled.
The city’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners issued a one-month suspension to Club Harem, owned by Steven Kougl.
Detective Fletcher Jackson went to Club Harem in April 2013 to conduct a prostitution investigation. A performer named Jamaica Brickhouse joined him for a drink.
She exposed her breasts to Jackson and invited him to touch them. He did, according to court records. Brickhouse then offered Jackson a visit to the club’s VIP room where they could “do whatever up there.”
She told Jackson the room would cost $170, and they agreed on a $100 tip.
After Brickhouse returned to the stage, Jackson notified his fellow officers. Brickhouse received a criminal summons eight months later, and the charges against her were eventually dropped.
Fifteen months after the incident, the Liquor Board charged Kougl with violating its rules relating to prostitution, indecent exposure, and violation of public morals.
Kougl appealed the suspension unsuccessfully to the Baltimore City Circuit Court, but the Maryland Court of Special Appeals overturned the ruling June 2.
Kougl argued that the evidence did not show that he “suffered,” “permitted” or “allowed” nudity and solicitation, as stated in the liquor board’s rules.
Judge Patrick L. Woodward wrote that the use of those words “necessarily require that some level of knowledge by the licensee must be established by the evidence.”
“The definition of ‘suffer’ expressly states that ‘it includes knowledge of what is to be done under sufferance,'” he added. “The terms ‘permit’ and ‘allow’ also imply knowledge of what is to be permitted or allowed.”
Since the word “suffer” was at the heart of this ruling, Woodward opened his opinion with the following quote from Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus”: “The eagle suffers little birds to sing/And is not careful what they mean thereby/Knowing that with the shadow of his wings/He can at pleasure stint their melody.”
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