DALLAS – The city cannot shut down a Dallas strip club just because a 12-year-old danced nude there.
The city ordinance that regulates sexually oriented businesses does not allow authorities to revoke the license of such a business for employing someone under 18.
"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 Dallas police vice unit commander who oversees licensing of such establishments.
Authorities say that over a two-week period last year, the sixth-grader danced at Diamonds Cabaret. They also say they found a 17-year-old girl working in the club in January.
Police are continuing to investigate whether the club's management knew that the girl — a runaway at the time — was underage.
In a faxed statement, the strip club management said it was "shocked and startled" by the allegations.
"Diamond's Cabaret does not condone, support, nor promote, the delinquency of minors or exploitation of children," the statement read.
Demonica Abron, 27, who worked as a stripper in the club, and David Bell, 22, have been charged with 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.
Bell is accused of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and aggravated kidnapping. He was being held at the Dallas County Jail on Thursday in lieu of a $450,000 bond. It was unclear if Bell had an attorney.
Abron also faces a prostitution charge. A telephone number listing for her could not be found.