The nuns of a convent in suburban Chicago took to the streets Wednesday in their fight to close a neighboring strip club some supporters call a "disgrace."
The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, of Melrose Park, were joined by community members as they marched from their convent to the front of Club Allure, which abuts their property to the south.
"This is the sixth adult entertainment club in the area of 5,000, so enough is enough," Sister Noemia Silva said.
The nuns this week filed suit against the strip club, saying it creates a common law nuisance and is operating in violation of state law. The lawsuit claims the club breaks a state law prohibiting adult entertainment clubs within close proximity to schools or places of worship.
"It's property line to property line, so there is no distance. It's flush with their property," said Thomas Brejcha, chief counsel for the Thomas More Society which helped with the lawsuit.
The suit further contends that the nuns are constantly exposed to indignities like "public violence, drunkenness, and litter," along with discarded contraceptive packages, even used syringes.
"Operation of Club Allure since last autumn has been in open and defiant contravention of the Illinois state law that mandates a 1,000 foot buffer zone between such an adult entertainment facility and places of worship or schools," the suit states. "The Sisters' property is a place of worship which includes three chapels within the three buildings on their property immediately adjacent to the strip club."
The suit names the club's owners and the Village of Stone Park, the west suburban community which granted its license to operate.
The club's Robert Itzkow vehemently denied the allegations.
"It's absolutely absurd that people can make these types of claims without any kind of backing at all," Itzkow said. "Our calls for service may be less than at the convent."
Itzkow says there's only been one police report in the entire 11-plus months that the club has been open, and "we dealt with that immediately." In total, he says, the police have been called only three times
"We're not a nuisance to them," he said. "Nuisances cannot be perceived. They have to be real and there is no actual evidence that we are a nuisance. You'd have to have police reports to back them up and there just aren't all these police reports."
Allure's owner, Sean O'Brien, feels the suit is a misuse of the law. He says even before he moved in, he tried to create an establishment that would not disturb those who live near it.
"This is a problem in idealogy, not a law problem," O'Brien said. "We can't move these places. These licenses are few and far between, so they are fought for and they are hard to obtain. You can't get the licenses and move to another area, it doesn't work like that."