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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

‘Could Be Misconstrued as Something Sexual’

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CN) - Though she pleaded guilty to prostitution and there were "one or two condoms on the bed," it wasn't prostitution, it was "the Hindu religious practice of Tantra," and her plea shouldn't bar her from opening a medical marijuana store, a woman says in a lawsuit against Fort Collins, Colo.

Melody Kenyon claims she was engaging in spiritual communion, for a fee, with the undercover cop who busted her in 2012, and that Fort Collins discriminated against her by denying her application to open a Canna King dispensary because of "moral turpitude."

She sued the city in Larimer County Court.

Kenyon acknowledges that what she was doing during her 2012 bust in Nebraska "could be misconstrued as something sexual," but it was well within her rights as a Hindu.

"Ms. Kenyon engages in the Hindu religious practice of Tantra and travels to offer services related to this ancient, well accepted bona fide religious practice," the complaint states.

Here's what happened, according to her 18-page lawsuit: "On April 4, 2012, a police agent with the Omaha Police Department contacted Ms. Kenyon and arranged to meet her at the Candlewood Inn and Suites at noon.

"According to Ms. Kenyon's testimony, the police agent met her in a room at that hotel, paid her some money, removed his clothes, and lied [sic] on the bed face down. She discussed the practice of Tantra with the agent for some undetermined period of time, and was aware that the agent was recording the encounter. Also, there were one or two condoms placed on the bed during the events leading up to the arrest.

"Ms. Kenyon used various methods of touching the agent, including her hair and animal fur. Ms. Kenyon also stated on her application to the City that she 'told him [she] would pull out his "energy" of lingam with [her] "energy" of yoni.'" (Brackets in complaint.)

Lingam can be briefly translated as penis, and yoni as vagina.

Kenyon elaborates upon this in her lawsuit: "'Lingam' means a stylized phallic symbol that is worshipped in Hinduism as a sign of generative power and that represents the god Shiva. 'Yoni' means a stylized representation of the female genitalia that in Hinduism is a sign of generative power and that symbolized the goddess Shakti and derives from the Sanskrit word for 'vulva.'

"The police agent left the bed to go to the bathroom, and at some point soon thereafter an arrest team entered the room and arrested Ms. Kenyon on a charge of solicitation of prostitution."

Kenyon claims she pleaded guilty "in part due to the necessity of caring for an ailing spouse at the time." She paid a $250 fine and thought that was the end of it, she says in the lawsuit.

But no. The karma returned when Canna King's application for a medical marijuana center was denied "based upon the criminal history and lack of good moral character of Associated Person and owner Melody Kenyon," her complaint states.

She appealed and lost again, when the city told her she couldn't prove she was "rehabilitated," according to the lawsuit.

In high dudgeon, or perhaps just dudgeon, Kenyon claims the city's criticisms of her "reek of hypocrisy."

"The City of Fort Collins' findings of alleged 'moral turpitude' and alleged failure to disclose criminal behavior both reek of hypocrisy, since the City of Fort Collins itself engages in criminal misbehavior in affirmatively allowing individuals and entities to sell marijuana for profit in violation of federal law," Kenyon says.

The complaint continues: "The City of Fort Collins engages in [a] continuing series of criminal violations by licensing and undertaking actions in concert with five or more persons. The City occupies [the] position of 'organizer,' 'supervisory position,' and 'other positions of management' of the illegal drug distribution system in that it allows or denies certain individuals the ability to sell marijuana. The City obtains substantial income or resources from its actions in conjunction with the sale of marijuana."

Kenyon claims the denial of her application was arbitrary and capricious.

She adds that she has learned from her arrest.

Now she requires her Tantra customers to sign a waiver that they seek "spiritual counseling" from a minister with the Church of Universal Light.

"Ms. Kenyon has learned from counseling 'to not bring energy completing into the root chakra because that could be misconstrued as something sexual,'" the complaint states.

Canna King is a co-plaintiff. Kenyon owns 90 percent of it and plaintiff Theodore owns 10 percent, according to the lawsuit.

They seek judicial review of the city's decision, a declaration voiding it, and damages for civil rights violations.

They are represented by Robert Corry Jr. in Denver.

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