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Friday, June 26, 2009

Texas strip club sues 14-year-old exotic dancer

By BRIAN CHASNOFF San Antonio Express-News

June 20, 2009, 7:19PM

A strip club that hired a 14-year-old as an exotic dancer is now suing the girl, saying the seventh-grader swindled them into breaking state law.

The San Antonio teen allegedly exposed her breasts while working at Cheetah Club in Corpus Christi, a violation of state law.

Alan Yaffe, the club’s attorney, said the club didn’t know the girl was a minor.

“She came (into the club) with 6-inch stiletto heels and a miniskirt and looked just like a model from a Miss America’s contest,” Yaffe said.

Yaffe also disputed the sequence of events that authorities say brought the 14-year-old girl to Club Cheetah, where she exposed her breasts — a violation of state law.

Police say Leslie Campbell, 48, kidnapped the teenager in San Antonio in March, took her to Corpus Christi, sexually assaulted her over the course of a week, gave her a false identification card and forced her to strip at the club.

Police say the girl, who has not been identified, escaped from Campbell’s home and has been reunited with her parents in San Antonio.

Campbell was arrested and remains in Nueces County Jail on charges of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping.

Seeking damages

RJL Entertainment Inc., — which is doing business as “Cheetah Club,” according to tax records — filed the lawsuit last week.

The suit seeks unspecified damages from Campbell, the girl and her parents, as well as a declaration from a judge that it did not intend to hire a minor.

“We’re the victims here,” Yaffe said.

Authorities also arrested Jeffery Shawn Martinez, a manager at the club, on charges of employment harmful to a minor and sexual performance of a child. He was released on bail.

Martinez’s attorney, Fred Jimenez, said his client is not guilty.

“The minor walked in there with a fake ID and presented herself to be 22 years old,” Jimenez said. “She looks very mature.”

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Sgt. John Mann disagreed.

“I’ve seen this young lady’s picture, and I assure you she is a 14-year-old seventh-grader,” Mann said. “I personally think any reasonable and prudent person could tell you that is an underage girl.”

Mann said he expects his agency to take legal action against the club.