Porn-Show Ban Will Cost Dallas $650,000

DALLAS (CN) — The Dallas City Council approved a $650,000 settlement Wednesday of a free-speech lawsuit filed by a pornography-convention organizer that was kicked out the city-owned convention center three years ago on moral grounds.

The 15-member council unanimously approved the settlement without debate. Interim City Attorney Christopher J. Caso told the council before the vote that “it is in the best interest of the city to settle” the lawsuit, according to the meeting agenda.

His office warned the council three years ago before it voted to ban Exxxotica and reject the show’s lease that the First Amendment allowed the organizer to use the public facility and that Dallas’ sexually oriented business ordinance did not apply because Exxxotica was a temporary event, not a fixed business.

Three Expo Events sued the city in February 2016, claiming the city violated its First Amendment rights by banning Exxxotica 2016 — billed as the “largest adult event” in the nation dedicated to love and sex — as an impermissible use of a public facility under city code. Exxxotica itself is not a party to the federal lawsuit.

Several religious and business leaders and former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison had urged the council to ban the event, accusing it of being immoral and exploitative of women.

Dallas argued that it could ban the event because of “unclean hands” associated with alleged lewd acts that took place at the 2015 event. It described video footage of “fondling and touching of breasts and simulated sexual intercourse by oral sodomy,” saying the acts amount to public lewdness under state law.

“For example, nude women at Exxxotica fondled, rubbed, and kissed one another’s bare breasts and buttocks,” the response states. “Several models appeared nude within the ‘MyFreeCams.com’ area, where they ‘performed’ live for viewing patrons.”

Dallas police told the council before they voted to ban the show, however, that they observed no laws being broken at the event.

The trial judge dismissed the lawsuit in March 2016 on a technicality, finding the plaintiff lacked standing. U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater ruled that Exotica Dallas — a subsidiary “ownership entity” of Three Expo — contracted with the city for the 2015 show and Three Expo failed to show the resolution would stop the 2016 event from happening.

The city was forced to seek a settlement after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled last October that the trial judge was “clearly mistaken” in finding the city might have allowed Exxxotica to take place in 2016.

“The mayor and the City Council made clear at the City Council meeting their firm and deliberate decision to exclude Exxxotica 2016 from the convention center under any circumstance and regardless of the legal consequences,” the majority opinion stated. “There is nothing in the evidence to suggest that after so affirmatively barring Exxxotica 2016 from the convention center that the city would have allowed one of its officers to lease the facility to Exotica Dallas LLC for the purpose of staging Exxxotica 2016.”

The Fifth Circuit concluded that “all of the actions” of the mayor and councilmembers, business owners and civic groups that condemned the event are what banned the show, not just the vote itself.

Mayor Mike Rawlings acknowledged after the ban that the city would probably be sued as a result.
Exxxotica did not immediately respond to an email message Wednesday evening requesting comment on the settlement.

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