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Police raid nude clubs for third time in a week

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000

TAMPA -- For the third time in less than a week, strippers and customers were arrested for performing the fully nude, grinding lap dances that the city outlawed last December.

And, for the third time, the clubs, dancers and customers returned to business as usual after the officers and the police van left.

Starting at 7 p.m., Tampa police detectives and undercover officers hit four clubs Thursday: Seven Seas, Gold Rush, Pink Pony and Mons Venus, said Lt. Jane Castor.

Mons Venus owner Joe Redner, a former City Council candidate who has an eye on an at-large County Commission seat this fall, was livid but determined Thursday night.

"Before, we had 800, 900 people a day coming in here," Redner said. "The fact that we still have 400 people coming in here a day in direct defiance of that law says a lot. It shows that people care enough about their rights to stand up to the city."

Dancers are well aware they could be cited for performing lap dances, Redner said, but they don't care. Each club has attorneys challenging the lap dance ban's constitutionality. Redner believes his side will win.

Tampa residents who are cited for a lap dance violation are released on their signature and not taken to jail, Castor said. Out-of-town customers face a trip to the Hillsborough County jail. Castor said one of the men arrested at Mons Venus Thursday came from Saudi Arabia.

Senate candidate plans forum in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG -- U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum, the Republican candidate to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, will be in St. Petersburg on Saturday for an informal forum for any interested residents.

The town hall-style meeting is the latest of McCollum's "Florida Forums," where he travels across the state to talk to voters and answer questions. It is his first St. Petersburg forum, though he has held one in Clearwater.

The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Sunshine Center, 330 Fifth St. N.

Boy accused of taking steak knife to school

NEW PORT RICHEY -- A 15-year-old New Port Richey boy brought a steak knife to school and was charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds on Tuesday, said Pasco sheriff's deputies.

The boy was attending summer classes at Gulf High School at 5355 School Road and had brought the knife -- which has a 5-inch blade -- to school to cut bread in class on Monday, then left it in his book bag by mistake, he told deputies.

He was arrested about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday after several students told a deputy the boy had a knife in his book bag, according to a deputy's report.

The boy told deputies he was being "picked on" by some other students, but that was not the reason he had the knife, deputies said. He was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

It was unclear Thursday night whether he had been released.

The Times is withholding the boy's name because of his age.

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