25 strippers sue city of San Diego

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POSTED: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 5:46pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 5:48pm

Nude dancers at a Kearny Mesa strip club have filed a claim against the city of San Diego over the conduct of police officers during a recent raid at the club.

Brittany Murphy is one of 25 dancers at Cheetah's "All Nude" strip club at 8105 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard who have filed the claim. Police held her and other dancers against their will for about three hours and photographed their tattoos during a raid to check permits on March 6, she said.

Officers made "arrogant and demeaning comments" as they took the photos, and posed them so they could "expose body parts," according to the claim.

"They were taking pictures of me half naked through my sheer top. They can clearly see everything because the flash is going," Murphy said. "I felt very violated and my rights were taken away. They took pictures of us – not our faces – our whole bodies."

The club is not involved with the dancers' claim against the San Diego Police Department. It alleges that officers from the vice division acted inappropriately during the work permit check.

Adult entertainment venues are highly regulated. Under the law, the police are mandated to perform unannounced inspections and work permit checks at regulated establishments like Cheetah's. If the club or any employee refuses or doesn't have their work permit, the club's license can be revoked on the spot.

Cheetah's manager, Rich Buonantony, has managed the club for years and welcomes routine checks, but the way the women were treated this time was unacceptable, he said.

"As I opened the door, three officers with bulletproof vests with guns at their hips come running past me to stop the women. They are in bras, panties, high heels or nude," Buonantony said.

About 10 vice officers herded the women into a back dressing room.

"We have great respect for the police department, but this is not a great position for us to be in right now," Buonantony said. "I have every walk of life here, and they are being treated like second-class citizens."

A work permits costs a dancers $400 a year, and it includes finger printing and social security verification.

Police officials told Fox5 they are aware of the dancers' claims. But they are standing behind the officers' conduct during the inspection on March 6.

SDPD spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer told U-T San Diego that cataloging tattoos is an important tool for identifying adult entertainers, who can change their appearance with a wig, makeup or colored contact lenses. 

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