A suburban religious order will have to come up with a new legal argument to stop a strip club which went up in its own back yard, after a Cook County judge dismissed every aspect of their case.
Judge Peter Flynn ruled Tuesday that Stone Park’s home rule powers trumped a state ordinance which the nuns said should have prevented construction of Club Allure within 1,000 feet of their premises. The judge further determined that the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles had failed to cite enough specifics in their arguments that the club had become a nuisance since its opening in 2014.
“What we need are specifics,” the judge said. “There is what comes close to legal hysteria. But there aren’t a lot of facts.”
The lawsuit, filed with the assistance of the Thomas More Society, alleged that the nuns have been subjected to pulsating music, bright lights, fistfights in the club’s parking lot, and in some cases, trespassing on their own property.
“As an example, a month ago a young man stumbled intoxicated into the sisters’ chapel during our mass services,” said Sister Noemia Silva. “This illustrates why Club Allure is damaging to our community.”
Lawyers for the nuns went so far as to suggest that what was going on in the dance club was tantamount to prostitution.
But the club’s lawyer and former owner, Robert Itzkow, called the judge’s ruling a “complete repudiation” of the convent’s arguments.
“The club was licensed, it was legally constituted,” he said. “It may not be something that everybody likes.”
During portions of the hearing, it often seemed Judge Flynn was more irritated with the lawyers’ execution of the arguments than the sisters’ actual complaints, noting that “generalized one-liners” did not constitute an actual nuisance.
“If someone happens to be hypersensitive,” he said, “the usual rule of law is—that’s their problem!”
The judge left the door open for the sisters to return with more specific arguments about why the club constitutes such a negative impact on their quality of life. But Itzkow predicted he would prevail again, and suggested he may file a counterclaim against those who brought the case.
“It is something that in this country is allowed,” he said. “It is America. If we went with just what other people like about entertainment—I guess what the nuns like about entertainment—we wouldn’t have cable tv.”