The Cherry PIt is in the news again. The Duncanville, Tx police raided the Pitt and hauled away a lot of evidence. The police raided the suburban Dallas swingers’ club confiscating items from the 50 or so people who were there.(about half of the number the police claimed regularly attended the club) The raid was executed pursuant to a search warrant alleging the club was in reality an illegal sexually oriented business. No one was arrested but all attendees were identified and photographed.
The Cherry PIt is a private residence tucked in away in an upscale Duncanville residential neighborhood. The Cherry Pit advertises on the internet and according to published reports draws as many as 100 guests to a weekend gathering.
The Cherry Pit has been throwing adult-oriented parties where couples pay a fee for entry and can engage in pretty much any type of sexual activity they want on the premises. It is the position of the owners that this does not constitute a “business” as the entrance money is to cover the cost of food, soft drinks etc and not a fee for the privilege of engaging in sex from the tame to the “Pulp Fiction” apple in the mouth brand of entertainment…. It is rumored for an extra service charge they will even “bring out the gimp“
The controversy started back in November of 2007 when after several years of Cherry Pitt neighbors complaining about the crime, traffic and “unsavory element” “the pit” was bringing to the neighborhood, the City of Duncanville passed the following ordinance:
“the operation and maintenance of a sex club to be unlawful and a public nuisance. Violation of the new ordinance can result in a fine of up to $2,000.”
The PIt has received 10 citations, five for operating a sex club and five for operating a sexually oriented business without a license.
The city of Duncanville then decided that the gatherings at the Cherry Pit were more than just a gathering of “friends and family” looking for some fun and determined that it was in fact a sexually oriented business and subect to the ordinance. The response of Julie Norris, one of the owners of “The PIt” was as follows:
“I don’t know what their definition of a business is, but to my understanding a business is public – anyone can just walk into it and you must pay to get in and we are none of that,” Norris said. “I accept donations. Have you ever had your friends over for a barbecue and asked everyone to pitch in $5 or bring a dish? That is exactly what we do. The only requirement to get into my home is that you call and let me know that you are coming and you are on my reservation list.”
Ms Norris went on to state that she believed that the ordinance is a guise to attack their lifestyles and beliefs and that the ordinance regulating the club violated their First Amendment Rights to Privacy.
“It boils down to people want to put their morality into my private home and I am going to stand against that,” Norris said. “That is not what the Constitution allows.”
The owners of the Cherry PIt subsequently counter sued the city claiming the ordinance banning sex clubs violates their privacy and due process rights. They are basically using the same argument under which a right to privacy was found under Roe v. Wade. They have to use this method in making the right to privacy argument because there is in fact no right to personal privacy spelled out in the Constitution.
The Cherry Pit’s attorney, Ed Klein, said the city is trying to regulate private acts in a private home using the public nuisance law as a “pretext” to do so….
The Cherry Pitt has remained open while all the legal wrangling has taken place. The City of Duncanville broadened the ordinance designed to shut the club down by making the definition of a sex club more general and add a local appeal process for sex clubs that the city orders to close.
Duncanville city officials have said that the club is a public nuisance that is “detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the city of Duncanville.”
So what you do think? Should private citizens be allowed to “swap pits” at the Pitt without the government getting its’ rocks off?