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San Diego Police Creepily Forced Strippers to Pose for Photos. Now the City’s Paying $1.5 Million.

A city ordinance let officers harass women as part of a licensing inspection process. A judge ruled it unconstitutional.

StripperMystock88photo / Dreamstime.comThe City of San Diego will pay a pack of strippers nearly $1.5 million for behavior sleazier that what you'd typically see at a club.

San Diego has an ordinance to license strippers, requiring them to get identification cards to show who they are. Then police got creepy. In 2013 and 2014, police came to two clubs, Cheetah's Gentleman's Club and Exposé, detained strippers for more than an hour, and subjected them to bizarre inspections and lined them up to take their photographs, all using this ordinance as a justification. The women claim the police made demeaning comments to them and threatened to arrest them if they tried to leave.

Back then, police said they were taking these photos to document the women's tattoos to track them—much like they do with gang members—because they change their appearances. Seventeen women saw this as a violation of their constitutional rights and sued.

In March, the women got a partial victory when a federal judge ruled that San Diego's ordinance violated their First Amendment rights. The judge ruled that the ordinance didn't have any provisions that prevented the police department from using it to harass the women or the clubs to discourage them from allowing or participating in strip shows without any legal cause. Therefore the ordinance violated the businesses' and the women's rights to free expression.

Unfortunately the judge turned aside—for now, anyway—a claim that the ordinance also violated the strippers' Fourth Amendment rights protecting them from warrantless searches. The judge determined that the strippers all agree to "reasonable searches" when they get their license to be strippers. Given that it's mandatory to get a license, he's essentially saying that the city has the power to diminish their Fourth Amendment rights to some degree if they want to legally work. But he did say that the searches have to be reasonable, inviting the strippers' lawyers to introduce arguments that they were not reasonable or consensual before issuing a ruling. So there's still a possibility that the judge may further determine that there were Fourth Amendment violations as well.

The City of San Diego had been trying to the case dismissed and failing. So Tuesday, San Diego's City Council approved two financial settlements--$110,000 to one dancer and $1.4 million to be split among 16 other dancers.

The city is also reviewing the ordinance for potential fixes to make it constitutional. Here's a suggestion: The "licensing" process should consist of a simple check to make sure they are of legal age. Then leave them alone.

Photo Credit: Mystock88photo / Dreamstime.com

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  • Don't look at me!||

    More pix needed!

  • StackOfCoins||

    "a pack of strippers"

    Are you sure it's not a gaggle?

  • JonFrum||

    A parade.

  • BYODB||

    I prefer a fling of strippers.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Shouldn't it be a pole of strippers?

  • Nardz||

    I thought it was a murder?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    A murder would be a group of crows or ravens.

  • TheDoDahMan||

    A binder.

  • Aloysious||

    +1 alt-text.

    I needed a chuckle.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Scott is always the best. Ed was a crackup at it to. Reason needs to fucking bring back Big Boss Eddy Kraykray.

  • Dillinger||

    can strippers be protected from strip searches?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    How do you strip search someone who is already naked?

  • Dillinger||

    must refer to local police manual for answer

  • Liberty Lover||

    Bend over, grab your ass cheeks and spreadem! Search now begins.

  • juris imprudent||

    Maybe I need to develop some training for cops, titled These Are Things Your Badge Does Not Entitle You To Do. Because incidents like this always come down to some failure to train, never - you know we just screwed up and hired an incompetent douchebag and gave him a gun and immunity.

  • Dadlobby||

    The girls at "Expose" were mad they were exposed? In the old days it was "illegal" and then police and guvmint officials could get their honest graft at the back door without putting the people on the hook to pay lawsuits. I'm sure making the ordinance "Constitutional" will stop the sophomoric creepy porn behavior and there'll never be another instance of regulatory overstep by guvmint officials.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    San Diego is Spanish for "make it rain".

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    The "licensing" process should consist of a simple check to make sure they are of legal age

    and correct dimensions.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>correct dimensions

    even "no fat chicks" subjective.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    There must be standards! Otherwise Somalia or something...

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    If you are suddenly experiencing a overflow of thicc Somalian woman, then I am more than willing to help.

  • DiegoF||

    Yeah the East Side brings the hotties but it most definitely does not bring the thicc. A thicc stripper from the Horn of Africa is one who's been eating enough to not have a visible ribcage. That is why America's thirsty colonial forefathers felt the West Side was the Best Side.

  • DesigNate||

    I'm not sure how to comment on this without knowing the political affiliations of the cops and city council.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Oh snap!

  • Rock Lobster||

    Ask the Rev. He seems to have 'em pegged as social conservatives.

  • BYODB||


    In March, the women got a partial victory when a federal judge ruled that San Diego's ordinance violated their First Amendment rights.


    Unfortunately the judge turned aside—for now, anyway—a claim that the ordinance also violated the strippers' Fourth Amendment rights protecting them from warrantless searches.


    It's a god damn travesty is what it is. How this idiot judge could determine a violation of free speech instead of search and seizure is anyone's guess. Clearly the 1st amendment is the only one that matters, even while even the 1st is being steadily chipped away at.


    Privacy in the United States is not only a disfavored right, but virtually a non-existent one these days.


    The judge determined that the strippers all agree to "reasonable searches" when they get their license to be strippers. Given that it's mandatory to get a license, he's essentially saying that the city has the power to diminish their Fourth Amendment rights to some degree if they want to legally work.


    Oh I see, so because you want to work your right to not be searched without probable cause is 'diminished'. So really, your only option is to be homeless and not ever work, not that those things will stop you from being frisked by cops on the street.


    Anyone that doesn't recognize that the bill of rights is essentially a dead letter of law right now, today, is living in a fantasy bubble.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "Generally applicable laws" trump constitutional amendments don't you know?

  • JonFrum||

    Any time dancers hit the jackpot, I'm happy. And maybe this publicity will keep the cops out of the clubs, and allow the girls to be friskier during lap dances.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Social conservatives -- prudish, authoritarian, superstitious, creepy -- are among my least favorite "libertarians."

  • BYODB||

    So it's your opinion that the San Diego police department are social conservatives? Weird, they must be some of the only one's.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I don't believe he read the article.

  • DiegoF||

    What, he has to read everything? He reads enough. I'm suitably impressed. He probably even signs his name by spelling it out, instead of with a big X copied carefully off the side of his moonshine jug.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Social conservatives -- prudish, authoritarian, superstitious, creepy -- are among my least favorite "libertarians."

  • No Longer Amused||

    Legal age should be the same as it is for any other job: 16.

  • DiegoF||

    Fun fact: In keeping with the great cultural difference between here and Europe, in the UK hardcore porn was not legalized until the later Blair government; but until then, also, the newspapers not only had topless girls posing in them, the Sun ran a "countdown" until its next girl's birthday and "unveiling." Her sixteenth birthday. Because that's what the legal age was for nudie erotica.

  • CDRSchafer||

    Fake nudes!

  • widget||

    San Diego is only a 1/2 hour drive from Tijuana. Some advice to the up and coming strippers who regularly read H&R: don't practice your fine craft in San Diego. You'll make more money and retain your dignity at a garden variety topless bar in Davenport Iowa.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    I like the original picture best.

  • Liberty Lover||

    It is a nice picture, but I am not sure it is worth 1.5 million. I think you could actually find better on the Internet for free.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    "The city is also reviewing the ordinance for potential fixes to make it constitutional. Here's a suggestion: The "licensing" process should consist of a simple check to make sure they are of legal age. Then leave them alone.
    "

    Don't be naive. Obviously, to obtain a stripper's license the applicant must complete 100 hours of expensive training in acrobatics and yoga, take a class in administering CPR, and have print impressions taken of her nipples.

  • Rock Lobster||

    All in the interest of pubic safety, of course.

  • dantheserene||

    Next thing you know, some other judge will interfere with a police officer's legal right to have sex with massage parlor girls to make sure they are being properly charged.

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