Calling The Harem “out of control,” a Montgomery County judge granted a preliminary injunction closing the Harrison Twp. strip club for at least a year.
Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis Adkins issued his ruling Tuesday morning that declared the business a nuisance after a 9-month state investigation of the North Dixie Drive club resulted in charges of illegal drug trafficking, sexual contact and food stamp fraud.
“The Harem was excellent at being covert and hiding this activity,” Adkins said.
The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office filed for the injunction, which is separate than the prosecutions of 11 people facing criminal charges.
Assistant prosecutor Mary Montgomery said there was “multiple sex acts, prostitution, solicitation and the voluminous drug activity going on inside the Harem.”
The club has been shut down since a raid in September ended an Ohio Investigative Unit probe that began in January.
“I think it’s a huge victory for the people of Harrison Twp.,” said Steve Adams, a lifelong Harrison Twp. resident. “They do not help the community at all. It’s a scourge on our community. (The injunction is) a huge step in the right direction.”
The Harem’s owner and defense attorneys declined to comment after the judge’s decision. Prosecutors said The Harem could appeal the decision during the next 12 months and that they could seek a permanent injunction.
Adkins heard testimony over three days from OIU undercover agents and from witnesses called by the defense. The agents testified that they were sold drugs, were solicited for acts of prostitution and had illegal sexual contact with dancers.
Heck called The Harem a “sex and drug den” when he announced the indictments of the 11 criminal defendants. The criminal cases are ongoing.
Those indicted are: Samantha Clay, 29, Dayton, on 33 counts; Samantha Childers, 30, Dayton, on 15 counts; Kayla Olivia Hatton, 22 , Dayton, on nine counts; Anna Barnes, 26, Middletown, on four counts; Sarah Barnes, 27, Piqua, on two counts; Melvin Bibbs, 58, Dayton, on four counts; Vanessa Graham (aka Schrider), 29, Englewood, on three counts; Ryan Perry, 32, Tipp City, on one count; Ciera Chastain, 24, Dayton, on four counts; Jennifer Rowland, 22, Springfield, on two counts; and Aaron Crenshaw, 30, Dayton, on seven counts. Perry recently was arrested.
Of the indicted 84 charges, the trafficking counts included cocaine, methamphetamine, carfentanil, fentanyl, marijuana and Oxycodone.
Several counts involved allegations of illegal sexual activity in a sexually oriented business, illegal uses of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) or WIC benefits — such as exchanging them for sexual contact — and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
“Our goal is simply to have the court declare that The Harem is a public nuisance and its continued operation endangers the safety of the neighborhood and the citizens,” Heck said when he announced that his office would seek the injunction.
After the raid of The Harem, Sharkey’s and The Living Room — all North Dixie strip clubs — the Ohio State Highway Patrol said several people would be charged with administrative violations the Ohio Liquor Control Commission. The other two clubs did not have anyone who faced felony criminal charges.