Ruling against Diva’s in nudity case

This story was published on April 16, 2003 on Page B1 in all editions of the Bangor Daily News

BANGOR – Diva’s dancers shouldn’t be donning their pasties and thongs again anytime soon.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Tuesday a lower court decision that the downtown strip club violated two provisions of the city’s land use code in June 2001 and concurred that the establishment cannot present nude entertainment.

The high court also ordered owner Diane Cormier-Youngs to pay a $2,000 fine for allowing dancers to perform in pasties and thongs. Ordinances require exotic dancers to wear the equivalent of bikini tops and bottoms.

Cormier-Youngs could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“We’re pleased that the court upheld our ordinance,” City Solicitor John Hamer said Tuesday, “and [the court] think this is a correct result affirming that she did violate the ordinance. That had been pretty clear to us.”

In the decision written by Chief Justice Leigh Saufley, the court stated that the ordinance is “a content-neutral regulation that serves very important governmental interests that are unrelated to the suppression of free expression.” The court also ruled the ordinance’s “incidental restriction on free speech is no greater than is necessary to achieve the government’s purpose and provides reasonable alternative avenues for expression.”

City officials said they weren’t surprised by the decision.

While Diva’s was cited for violations on June 22 and June 26, 2001, Bangor police observed dancers wearing only G-strings and pasties on at least eight other occasions.

Police Chief Don Winslow said Tuesday his office regularly checks up on Cormier-Youngs’ dancers to make sure they are 18 years old, but has not cited the club for further violations of nudity laws.

A federal lawsuit filed by Cormier-Youngs challenging the constitutionality of the ordinances was stayed in December 2001 pending the outcome of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court appeal.

Hamer said he expected the lawsuit to move forward in light of Tuesday’s law court decision.