BID FOR DANCERS’ PERSONAL INFO DOESN’T HAVE A PRAYER

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A federal district court has squashed an attempt by a private citizen to obtain the personal information of dancers and managers at a Washington state erotic dance studio.

Defendant David Van Fleet filed a Washington Public Records Act disclosure request for the personal information of employees at Dreamgirls at Fox’s, an erotic dance studio in Washington state’s Pierce County. Van Fleet sought true names, birth dates and photographs. 

According to the court, he wanted to access the information so that he could pray for the employees by name.

The Dreamgirls employees sued to prevent Van Fleet from getting his hands on that information. Although the court had granted a preliminary injunction, they also sought to permanently bar any member of the public from getting the information.

On Aug. 10, the court permanently enjoined Pierce County and its auditor from disclosing the information requested by Van Fleet, finding the information exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act.

“It is well-established that erotic dancing is a protected form of expression under the First Amendment,” the court said. The disclosure of the employees’ license information would have an “unconstitutional chilling effect” on their dancing because they “are uniquely vulnerable to harassment, shaming, stalking, or worse,” it said.

But the court refused to extend the permanent injunction beyond Van Fleet. The Public Records Act isn’t unconstitutional as applied, it said.

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