Dallas- The mere fact that a 12-year-old girl danced nude at a northwest Dallas strip club isn’t enough to close its doors.
That’s because the city ordinance that regulates sexually oriented businesses does not allow authorities to revoke the license of such a business for employing someone under the age of 18.
The sixth-grader danced at Diamonds Cabaret over a two-week period late last year, authorities say. They also say they found a 17-year-old girl working in the club in January.
“If they’re not shut down, it’s like they’re giving them permission to have underage girls dancing and working in that club,” said the mother of the 12-year-old. The mother is not being named because her daughter, a runaway at the time of the incident, is considered a sexual assault victim.
Operators of the Diamonds Cabaret at 2444 Walnut Ridge Street did not return calls for comment. Their sexually oriented business license expires in November.
Demonica Abron, 27, who worked as a stripper in the club, and David Bell, 22, are facing charges in connection with the 12-year-old girl’s dancing in the club. Mr. Bell does not appear to have been employed by the club.
Police officials are continuing to investigate whether the club’s management knew she was underage.
The 23-page city ordinance does allow revocation of a club’s license if, for example, the club knowingly allows prostitution, the sale or use of drugs at the club, or if there are two convictions for sex-related crimes at the club within a 12-month period.
The department also can suspend, but not revoke, the license of an escort agency for up to 30 days if it has employed anyone under 18.
But the ordinance does not give the department similar power over adult cabarets such as Diamonds Cabaret.
“There’s a laundry list of things we can use to deny or revoke a license, but having a 12-year-old dancing in their establishment is not one of the things that automatically enables us to revoke their license,” said Lt. Christina Smith, a vice unit commander who oversees licensing of such establishments.
The mother of the 12-year-old girl said her daughter ran away in early November. She said the family frantically began looking and her husband finally found their daughter in late November. She was then interviewed by police.
According to court records, the runaway gave the following account:
Mr. Bell and Ms. Abron, who went by the stage name ‘Jewel,’ offered the runaway shelter. Mr. Bell told her that she would be stripping at a club called “Diamonds.”
Mr. Bell dropped them off at the club one day and introduced her to a man named “David” in the club’s office.
“Suspect David asked complainant if she had ever danced before, she said no,” the court records state. “David” then gave her an application, which she filled out with a fake name. She also told him that she was 19.
When “David” asked to see her identification, she told him that she didn’t have one. He told her to bring one when she came to work as a dancer.
“Complainant couldn’t think of a fake birthday, so she told suspect ‘David’ she forgot her birthday,” the records state. “Suspect ‘David’ gave her a funny look and told her she would have been born in 1988 if she was 19.”
A couple of days later, Mr. Bell drove Ms. Abron and the victim back to the club where Ms. Abron introduced her to a man named “Steve.”
“Suspect ‘Steve’ told” the girl “to take her clothes off to see if she was too shy to dance nude,” the records state. He told her she would have to pay a fee ranging from $10 to $30 each time she danced nude.
She danced that night and made about $100, of which she gave $30 to “Steve,” the records state.
The court documents are unclear on how many nights she danced.
The mother of the 12-year-old says she believes the club must have known her daughter was underage.
“I think they just didn’t care,” her mother said. “She’s 12, but she’s got the body of a 20-year-old. All they were thinking about was the money she could bring in.”
She said her daughter is now living with her grandmother in Arlington and again attending school.
Ms. Abron and Mr. Bell were indicted in late February on one count of felony sexual performance of the child in connection with making the 12-year-old work at the club. Both are also accused of engaging in organized crime.
Mr. Bell is accused of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and aggravated kidnapping. He is still being held in the Dallas County Jail in lieu of $450,000 bail.
Ms. Abron, who also faces a prostitution charge, has been released on bail from jail.