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Covington Police: Strip Club Was Site of Prostitution

WARNING: This article contains explicit language of a sexual nature

A man walked into Liberty's Show Lounge and was approached by a dancer named, Cat. She wanted a couple bucks for the jukebox. He obliged. She put on some tunes and then took the stage where her moves simulated sex. 

Cat lied on her back, spread her legs in the air, and began smacking her vagina while her butt was exposed. Following the performance, she descended from the stage and approached her new friend.

"She came over and asked, 'Are we going to be naughty or not?'," the man said. "I replied, 'Why the hell not?'.

That's when the man learned how to order drinks at Liberty's, the long-running "gentleman's club" on Scott Boulevard in Covington.

"She followed up and asked which size of a drink I'd like to purchase," he said. A female bartender, roughly sixty years old, approached.

The prices seemed high for Covington, probably high for anywhere. But these were more than drinks. The "menu" included three options: a $28 drink would allow Cat to join the man at his table where they could enjoy one another's company. A $38 purchase, and Cat would lead the man to the center of the lounge where the pair could enjoy more privacy, and the dancer's hands could slip into the man's pants. For $58, Cat would take the man to a u-shaped booth in the back of the room where no one could see them. That booth was reserved for the big spenders who would be rewarded with a blow job courtesy of Cat.

The man opted for option #2, the $38 special and slipped the bartender a pair of twenties and told her to keep the change. "I followed Cat to the middle of the bar and we sat at a booth. She sat next to me and threw her left leg over my right leg and she was kind of explaining to me the situation," he said. The situation was this: Whatever was about to go down between them could be visible by the bartender or the bouncer (who collected a $4 cover at the door) during any of their regular visits to check on Cat. As long as the man kept buying drinks or slipping them all tips, "everything would be OK", Cat told him.

While the first man got comfortable with Cat, a second man kept tabs from across the room. The men entered together but pursued their Liberty's adventures independently. Cat told the first man about how things work for an employee at the dingy club. "She said, dancers basically work for free. They receive tips and half the liquor count and are paid by cash at the end of the night," he said.
"She laughed and said, 'literally the girls made their money under the table'."
The man told Cat that if she did "a good job", he'd tip her again at the end. Cat removed several napkins from her purse and laid them across her lap. "I guess for clean-up afterwards," the man said. "She began touching my genitals and asked if I would pull my dick out of my zipper. I followed her instructions."
Keeping things casual, the man maintained small talk. He asked Cat how she kept from getting caught. She didn't. She'd been fired six times from various clubs for similar handy work. 
"Cat said, 'Just be cool'," he said. The aged female bartender returned to the man, asked if he wanted another beer. Her eyes never left his. The man did want another beer and the bartender left. "She never looked down to see my genitals exposed," the man said.
Cat continued her under-the-table massage. "I was feeling a little uncomfortable. I said my wife and I were trying to get pregnant and I didn't want to ejaculate," the man said. "I asked if I could see her and she exposed her vagina and said I could touch her."
The purchased flirtation continued for a pair of songs from the jukebox and then Cat offered her services outside the club, a private show, and the man could contact her some time and she'd meet him in the alley. He could even bring his friend from the other side of the bar.
He asked if Cat knew if any of the other girls at Liberty's would be willing to tag along for such a date. She wasn't sure, but, "maybe Trinity would be cool with it".
Then, a drug dealer well-known to law enforcement in the area entered Liberty's, and the romancing of Cat abruptly ended. The drug dealer recognized the man and was talking with the bartender and other dancers. Cat came back to the man and asked if he was a cop. "She said, 'If you were a cop, you'd be in as much trouble as me right now."
Then Cat whispered her phone number in the man's ear. He and his friend left. They had a report to make.
Police Raid Liberty's Show Lounge
The story the man told about his tryst with a dancer named Cat was part of allegations laid out in a seedy testimony offered at Covington City Hall on Thursday afternoon where Liberty's owner Kim Foran appeared with attorney Harry Hellings in hopes of saving her liquor license.
The man and his partner, as well as four other vice officers from Covington Police, had all visited the club last August in an attempt to gather information following complaints of prostitution inside the club. Days later, officers raided the joint and shut it down, handing out nine citations for nudity, drug possession, and other charges. The City alleges that Liberty's permitted nude or nearly nude activity, solicited patrons to buy drinks for employees, compensated workers with a cut from liquor sales, and allowed the site to be a public nuisance. A jusy later acquitted Foran, according to her attorney.
Assistant City Solicitor Bryce Rhoades represented Covington.
All of the officers testifying at the city's alcohol and beverage control hearing shared similar stories, though all did not involve Cat. Some involved dancers named Desire or Secret.
"She started rubbing my penis through my pants and explained that she could give me a hand job here and that  I could have her number later," one officer said of Desire. "She said the doorman wouldn't bother us if we tipped him on the way out."
Desire took her top down and placed the officer's hands on her nipples. "She said I could masturbate her," he said, "and we could have oral sex at the back table."
Another officer was approached by a dancer in a bikini with ribbons tied up and down her legs. "I gave her a couple singles to put in the juke box," he said. The ribbon-clad legs then took the stage for a performance. "I put some money under one of the ribbons. She was rubbing her crotch. There were a couple guys in the bar doing the same thing."
Moments later, the officer gave the dancing Desire more cash. "I gave her five dollars in her strap near her butt," he said. A second time, he returned to the stage. "I put five singles a second time underneath the strap near the inside of her left thigh."
The man's partner for the evening then purchased a drink for Desire and, "I was approached by a second dancer named Cat," he said. "She squatted in front of me, put her hands behind my knees," he said. The bartender approached and asked if he wanted to buy her a drink, he alleged. "Cat encouraged me to buy her the $58 drink and she promised me that it was something I wouldn't regret."
"I'm really good. Give me the full sixty and let me suck your dick," she said, according to the officer.
He ponied up the $58 and Cat led him to a corner booth. "We sat down. She started rubbing the inside of my thigh. The bartender brought her the drink, one that appeared to be bourbon and coke, the officer described.
"She continued to rub on the inside of my leg and groin area around my penis," the officer testified. "She unzipped my pants. She slid her hand inside the blue jeans, outside the underwear. She reached further down to the scrotum area."
During this semi-private performance, the officer was sending text messages to another officer. "I said, my wife is texting me and that I'm not comfortable with this. My friend gets me in trouble all the time and I think I better go," the officer said. He and his fellow officer left but not before Cat gave him her phone number. "She said she could take a break from work some time to take care of me," he claimed.
Owner said she was unaware of activity inside bar
Through her attorney, Harry Hellings, Foran said that she was not aware of any illegal activity going on inside her establishment. Following the raid last August, all of the employees in question were fired, the attorney said.
Hellings also drilled officers on whether they knew for sure that the drinks served were alcoholic and whether they saw the many signs that warned of "no solicitation". Hellings said that Foran showed up the night of the raid to cooperate with officers.
One officer acknowledged that Foran showed up, in her pajamas.
"I was not in my pajamas," Foran said quietly, multiple times in Hellings' ear during his cross-examination.
"Would you please let me do this? I can't do this with you talking in my ear," Hellings snapped at Foran. 
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she whimpered.
Hellings also suggested that the city was targeting the business because of a possible development deal. City Manager Larry Klein told The River City News that at least one developer working on nearby properties was interested in acquiring the building but that potential deal was no longer active and that the city was never involved. Liberty's is situated in a part of Downtown Covington that is seeing a resurgence in development. The Kenton County Library recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation, Gateway Community & Technical College is active in one building and has dispatched contractors to another for renovation, and a local developer is restoring a sprawling structure next to Liberty's where a nearby company will expand and the Covington Police bike patrol will be housed. Buona Vita Pizzeria recently opened its second location on the block. Lee's Chicken also modernized its interior.
And then there's Liberty's, a throwback to Covington's recent past as a destination for wayward husbands, bored businessmen, and every day vagrants looking for a cheap thrill. Or a $58 thrill.
Most of the businesses have been forced out, though a few remain in tact. 
"We don't want that kind of illegal activity going on in the city and that is an important corridor with Gateway and students and youth and redevelopment of that area," Klein said. "We want that to be a legitimate business."
"I hope there's a good outcome here. I hope the illegal activity stops one way or the other. The city has made great progress in recent years at places with similar activity. Bottoms Up, 701, the Pad. The city has made great strides in bringing legitimate economic activity to these corridors and we want that to continue. That's a message to any other businesses out there that is conducting similar activity. We won't tolerate it in this city. It's bad for business."

Liberty's hits the real estate market

Whether its liquor license can be salvaged (no decision was made Thursday and city zoning administrator Andy Juengling has seven days to consider the testimony), the property and business (with liquor license included) hit the market on Thursday.

"Liberty's Show Lounge! Great Opportunity to own a real money maker-Long established Gentleman's Club in the heart of the city-includes liquor license-upper level of building could be finished for extra income!," the real estate listing boasts. The asking price is $275,000 for the narrow club with its teal booths lining the southern wall and leading up to the coveted u-shaped booth where $58 can allegedly land a man a memorable seat. A long bar sits across from the booths. A stage, complete with a pole and mirrored backdrop rests at the other end.

Foran's attorney could not be reached for further comment on Thursday.

Covington Police Chief Spike Jones was proud of the work his so-called "D-Team", the department's undercover vice squad, did. "I look at it as one of those last bastions of Covington that no longer exists," Jones said, "a Northern Kentucky that no longer exists and doesn't need to exist. It needs to go."

"The activity they were engaging in was, in our opinion, knowingly illegal. It's a black eye on the city that that was even going on. If we can do something to move that type of business out of the city, I'm more than happy to do it."

Editor's Note: The Covington Police got opinions from the Kenton County Attorney and Commonwealth's Attorney Offices on how to proceed during this investigation. The department told The River City News that the behavior of the undercover officers during the course of the investigation was legal and compared it to the act of purchasing drugs from dealers during investigations. 

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Liberty's Show Lounge/RCN