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Strip Club Will Face Teen Performer’s Claims

(CN) - A Texas strip club must face up to claims a 14-year-old girl was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and forced to perform at the club, a state appeals court ruled.

Noel Doe alleged that Leslie Campbell abducted her from a homeless shelter and assaulted her. Noel also claimed that she was taken to various locations in San Antonio and Corpus Christi, where she suffered sexual assaults at the hands of various men.

Campbell then allegedly took Noel to Club Cheetah, where she was forced to present a false ID and strip for money.

Jerilyn Ann Cerda sued the club as the next friend of Noel, claiming that Noel was touched by the bar patrons and encouraged to expose her breasts to them.

According to the lawsuit, Noel escaped after a week of captivity while Campbell was in the shower.

Cerda sued Club Cheetah on Noel's behalf for negligence and grossly negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The trial court granted Club Cheetah's motion to dismiss the case for failure to state a cause of action. But the 13th District Texas Court of Appeals overturned the decision in an opinion written by Judge Gina M. Benavides, ruling that the club's alleged conduct would have violated state and local law and were sufficient to support Cerda's claims of negligence per se.

The judge cited a Corpus Christi ordinance that requires a manager or other employee of the club to give a "reasonable examination" to a worker's identification to ensure that she is 18 or older.

But the appeals court upheld the trial court's dismissal of Cerda's claims of negligently breaching the duty not to corrupt a minor and grossly negligent infliction of emotional distress.

"Without further guidance from the Texas Supreme Court, we cannot make such a determination as to whether grossly negligent infliction of emotional distress is recognized in Texas," Benavides wrote.

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