A judge has ruled that a strip club in Beaverton, just outside of Portland, must pay $1 Milllon in damages to a girl who danced there when she was 15. As outlined in the Oregonian, the girl danced and was groped by customers. Oregon labour commissioner Brad Akavian said that “no person should ever be subjected to what this young woman experienced.” This ruling comes on the heels of another recent ruling against the same club, Stars Cabaret, for $1.25 million dollars in the case of a 13-year-old who was coerced into performing sex acts at the club in 2012.
In the case of the 15-year-old, the club acted quickly once management realized that she was working underage. She had originally run away from a drug rehabilitation facility, and come across Anthony Curry. He put her up in his home, started abusing her sexually, and procured her a fake ID, according to prosecutors. With that ID, he helped her get dancing jobs at several clubs in and around Portland, including at Stars Cabaret. She ended up dancing there 7 times.
At some point, a bartender noticed that the photo of a missing child on Facebook looked like the young dancer, and notified management. At that point, general manager John Herkenrath contacted the police. She was later picked up dancing at another club, and Curry was arrested. The young woman was placed in protected custody.
The club was operated by Freho, Inc, which employed Herkenrath. Interestingly enough, the ruling held Freho and Herkenrath responsible, and not the club owners. Freho Inc’s lawyers have since claimed that this ruling is irresponsible. They say that Herkenrath and his employer are being punished for notifying the police of a potential victim of child sex trafficking. On the other hand, notwithstanding the fact that she was a victim of trafficking, the treatment the young woman went through at the club happened under management’s noses, if not with their consent.
Curry has since been convicted for using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct, and was sentenced to life in prison as a three time sex offender. The Stars Cabaret club in Beaverton has since closed, although there are still locations in Bend, Salem, and Tualatin.
This won’t be the end of the club’s legal troubles, however. Both girls are seeking an additional $4 million each from civil suits against Start Cabaret. They allege that the club’s management knew that they were underage and susceptible to exploitation, and used their positions of power to profit off of them.
It’s important to know that sexual harassment can occur in any workplace, even if the work is sexual in nature, such as at a strip club. No one should be subjected to inappropriate behavior, speech, or unwanted actions that make them feel threatened or uncomfortable. If you feel that your rights at the workplace have been infringed upon by sexual harassment, contact a sexual harassment attorney immediately to discuss your options.