A group of 25 strippers at a club in San Diego filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming they were forced to be part of a demeaning photo session.
The officers were at the club earlier this month performing an inspection on the premises, according to KPBS. That led to an hour-long photo session where the officers reportedly took pictures of the women's tattoos while they were in lingerie or in some cases, nude.
The police, who were conducting an inspection, "had no legitimate safety concerns, nor were the manner of the detentions commensurate with any articulable threat,'' Gilleon alleged in the claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit.
Officers made "arrogant and demeaning comments'' as they took the photos, and posed them so they could "expose body parts,'' according to the claim.
SDPD spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer told U-T San Diego that cataloguing tattoos is an important tool for identifying adult entertainers, who can change their appearance with a wig, makeup or colored contact lenses.
"Adult entertainers" like nude dancers are required to have a license and the club is also subject to routine inspections by the police as part of their license from the city to operate. That seems OK, until you start reading some of the details described by the club manager (emphasis mine):
They then took the women into a back locker room and took the photographs, while the women were dressed in bras and panties and high heels, or were nude, [manager Rich] Buonantony said.
I have tattoos. Trust me, you could get pictures of all them without having to make me get nude. That's ridiculous. By the way, lest you think otherwise, just because they are nude dancers doesn't mean they're comfortable being trotted out naked to be photographed. There's a huge difference between getting up on a stage to do a performance and being forced to do something you don't want to be part of.
Some people also find the cops' actions even more troubling in light of a string of sexual misconduct charges that have plagued the city's department. The rash of cases has even prompted a federal investigation, according to KPBS:
Among the most prominent cases has been the conviction of Anthony Arevalos in 2011 for eliciting sexual favors from women he stopped on traffic violations. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, but a judge last month overturned two of those charges, including sexual battery, and Arevalos will be resentenced.
A second San Diego police officer resigned last month after being charged with sexually assaulting four women in his patrol car. Another was under internal investigation after he was accused of exposing himself to women he had arrested.
You can see the documents from their lawsuit here.
Image via Shutterstock.