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Village prevails in battle over nude dancing

Forest Park, Illinois – from www.forestparkreview.com -Ken DeGori, known nationally in adult entertainment circles, has withdrawn his lawsuit against the village seeking to open a nightclub on Industrial Drive.

A federal judge dismissed DeGori’s case on Sept. 25 after lawyers for both sides filed a joint motion in late May stating both parties wished to suspend upcoming deadlines for collecting evidence and filing various motions. Mayor Anthony Calderone said the ruling is a victory for the community and keeps an unsavory business out of Forest Park.

“We certainly were prepared and had a very strong case,” Calderone said.

In 2008, the village rejected a settlement offer from DeGori, though those discussions continued, according to court records.

“The parties have also entered into discussions that may result in the resolution of this matter,” the attorneys said in their joint motion. “The parties wish to suspend discovery (and the accrual of additional legal fees) during those discussions, in order to give the discussions an opportunity to succeed.”

In her one-sentence ruling on Sept. 25 to dismiss the case, U.S. District Court Judge Elaine Bucklo gave DeGori a six-month window in which to reinstate his complaint.

Larry Byrne, an attorney with Pedersen and Houpt in Chicago who represented DeGori, had little to say about the ruling. His client is pursuing other opportunities in “another town,” said Byrne. He declined to give specifics on why the complaint against Forest Park was withdrawn.

There was no settlement agreement in the case.

In February 2008, DeGori sued the municipality after public officials rejected his application for a business license to open a strip club at 7865 Industrial Drive (just off Desplaines Ave.). DeGori had applied in early November 2007. Later that month, village hall unveiled a stringent amendment to its zoning code to regulate sexually explicit businesses in the community. At the time, Forest Park had no such regulations on its books, but a state law did offer some guidelines.

The village council adopted the new regulations within the month, and in a Dec. 5 letter to DeGori, informed him that – under the new code – the address on Industrial Drive was too near a forest preserve to be a legally acceptable location.

DeGori’s argument to the court was that the village codes, combined with a state law, effectively eliminated his right to open a nude bar in Forest Park, in violation of the First Amendment. The village later sought to redirect DeGori’s grievance toward the state law, reasoning that the municipality was simply carrying out a mandate it could not control. The judge rejected that argument.

DeGori did not return a phone call seeking comment on the ruling.

DeGori is the manager of a Scores strip club in Stone Park, and was named general manager of the year in 2008 for the Midwest region at the 11th annual Adult Nightclub and Exotic Dancers Award Show held in Las Vegas. He also manages a club in Palm Beach, Fla., where reality TV star Megan Hauserman was expected to make her stripping debut.

At the time of his 2007 application for a business license, DeGori was joined in the effort by Chris Wessels, who owns a business in Forest Park. Wessels Construction, 1800 Desplaines, sits at the corner of Industrial Drive. DeGori intended to lease the property at 7865 Industrial Drive from Wessels.

Wessels was not a co-plaintiff to the lawsuit, and publicly distanced himself from the legal battle. Several days after the suit was dropped, Wessels said he had not spoken with DeGori in months and was unaware of the court’s dismissal.

“I am still looking for tenants, as I have been for years,” Wessels said.

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