Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Law would curb escort businesses

Kenton meeting tonight

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Northern Kentucky's growing escort service industry would be regulated for the first time as part of a regional law for sexually oriented businesses that Kenton County officials will consider tonight.

"Campbell County has some escort services, but the problem is much worse in Covington,'' said Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson. "Most (escort services) are nothing more than a cell phone prostitution ring that has a fancy name.''

The public can have its say on the ordinance, which has been more than a year in the making, at tonight's special meeting of Kenton County Fiscal Court. Campbell County officials hope to consider the proposed legislation next month, after city leaders in that county review the final draft.

The sexually oriented business law specifies operating conditions and licensing fees for businesses that provide live, sexually oriented entertainment, including strip clubs, adult video stores, adult bookstores, and massage parlors whose operators are not licensed massage therapists.

Adult businesses and service oriented escort bureaus would pay an annual licensing fee of $3,000, while managers and employees each would pay yearly fees of $155. First-time offenders of the Class B misdemeanor would face a fine of up to $250 and/or six months in jail.

A study presented last August by Duncan Associates, a national consulting firm in Austin, Texas, found that Covington has six adult lounges or clubs. In Campbell County, Wilder has the "Playpen'' gentleman's club and Newport has two adult lounges - Brass Bull and Brass Mule - and two sexually oriented retail businesses.

Soon after the licensing regulations are approved, consultants will identify potential adult business zones in Kenton and Campbell counties. Supporters of local regulations hope that existing zones in nine cities in Kenton and Campbell counties will be enough to meet U.S. Supreme Court requirements and new ones won't be needed.

The high court has ruled that communities must provide zones where sexually oriented businesses can locate, no matter how undesirable residents and business owners may find them.

"Our hope is the study will show we already have enough places for adult entertainment,'' said Edmondson.

In Covington, police responded to sexually oriented businesses 469 times during a 25-month period - from Jan. 1, 2002, to Feb. 11, 2004 - the proposed ordinance says. Crimes committed at adult establishments included robbery, assault, fraud, malicious mischief, public intoxication and possession of illegal drugs.

If you go

• What: Special Kenton Fiscal Court meeting on proposed regional licensing ordinance for sexually oriented businesses

• When: 7 p.m. today

• Where: Fort Mitchell city building, Dixie Highway and Highland Ave.


E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com

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