A group of nuns and residents who live near a west suburban strip joint Thursday made allegations that prostitution and liquor law violations were occurring at the club, which they say has changed their neighborhood and which they have been seeking to shut down.
In an amended complaint to a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo and others claim Club Allure in Stone Park promotes and allows certain touching and “high friction rubbing” that could be considered prostitution under Illinois law.
They also say the club, located on Lake Street, violates Stone Park liquor laws by serving alcohol in close proximity to the nuns’ convent, which the plaintiffs say is also a house of worship and a retirement home. About 20 nuns live in the convent, which is on property adjacent to the club.
The nuns and other opponents held a news conference Thursday, holding signs with sayings such as, “Our children deserve a safe Stone Park.”
The suit was first filed against the club and the village of Stone Park in June under claims that zoning law was violated when the club was allowed to open in a residential area. The neighboring village of Melrose Park is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit. The convent straddles Melrose Park and Stone Park.
“This is not just a strip club,” said Thomas Brejcha, president of the Thomas More Society, which is representing the convent. “This is actual criminal conduct. We will press this for as long as it takes.”
Sister Noemia Silva said she’s worried about the impact the club’s presence will have on children in the neighborhood, who she says are now exposed to “alcohol, drugs, insecurity and human trafficking.”
The club “disrespects human life,” Silva said. “A line has been crossed.”
The amended lawsuit alleges club management allowed a bartender to leave work drunk shortly before she crashed her car into a light pole and died last month. It accuses the club owner of threatening employees not to discuss the death.
Brejcha said his private investigators uncovered information, which led to the newest allegations. He’s turned over that information to police, he said, but would not name which agency.
Stone Park police did not return phone calls Thursday. The club’s owner could not be reached for comment. Stone Park Mayor Beniamino Mazzulla referred comment to the village’s attorney, Dean Krone, who said he had yet to read the complaint.
Neighbors have claimed noise and lights from the club and its sign invaded the nuns’ and other residents’ space. They also cited condoms littering the area and public drunkenness of club patrons.
“The stress of having to deal with Allure strip club puts a burden on our families,” said Pat Zito, a nearby Melrose Park resident. “We need to pluck this thorn from our community.”
Zito described her street as aftermath from a carnival, with garbage and activity late at night. “It’s just not the way it used to be,” Zito said.
The lawsuit says the club’s location also violates state law, which prohibits adult entertainment businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of a school or place of worship. The convent includes three chapels.
The lawsuit marks the latest in an ongoing struggle that at first involved the club and Stone Park after the Village Board blocked the owners from opening a club at the site in 2009. The owners sued, and the village then allowed them to open Club Allure.
Gary Mack, spokesman for Melrose Park, called the situation “outrageous” and said the village supports efforts to close the club.
“It’s a travesty that the people of Melrose Park and the good sisters have to be subjected to the activity,” Mack said.
Source: Chicago Tribune