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Strip Club Owner Found Dead

Gainesville, Florida- The controversial owner of a chain of strip clubs, including Café Risqué in Micanopy, was found dead Sunday in his Alachua County home.

Asher G. “Jerry” Sullivan, 47, was discovered dead by family members in his SW Williston Road residence. An autopsy will determine the cause of death in the next day or two, said Sgt. Keith Faulk, spokesman for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.

“We do not suspect foul play,” he said.

Sullivan’s 14-year-old son found his father had died when he tried to wake him as his mother cooked breakfast, Faulk said. Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call around 11 a.m.

Family members declined comment. Gainesville attorney Gary Edinger, who represented Sullivan and considered him a friend, said Sullivan was a hard-working family man.

“The way he was perceived by people in the world was different than the way he really was,” he said. “He led an ordinary life.”

Sullivan owned Café Risqué and four other strip clubs in Georgia and North Carolina. The clubs are advertised on billboards along Interstate 75 and other freeways that announce: “We bare all.”

His plans to open an “adult superstore” selling magazines, videos and sex toys had provoked controversy in recent months. The store was proposed in the former location of Bobby’s Hideaway bar at 17301 NE U.S. 301 in Waldo.

The store was the site of protests in April, which Sullivan countered with a truck full of bikini-clad women. A rudimentary device spewed a hazardous substance into the building in May, in an incident characterized by investigators as a terroristic attack.

Sullivan posted a sign at the building last month criticizing State Attorney Bill Cervone for not moving fast enough to arrest the person responsible for the damage.

He sued Alachua County in July over restrictions on adult-oriented businesses. He has also been involved in lawsuits over advertisements for the club and a sign criticizing a code enforcement officer in St. Johns County, where he used to own a club.

The code officer had taken down the critical sign, Edinger said, prompting the legal battle. That case went all the way to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals before Sullivan won and set a free-speech precedent, he said.

“He never shied away from taking government on when he wasn’t being treated fairly,” he said.

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