Police push for club to lose liquor license amid allegations of sex on stage, prostitution

Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman said he was appalled at a rap concert that got out of control at Inner Circle nightclub in July 2017. (Photo: CityCable)
Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman said he was appalled at a rap concert that got out of control at Inner Circle nightclub in July 2017. (Photo: CityCable)
The president of the East End Area Council (left) appeared alongside the club attorney and one of its owners Monday at Cincinnati's Law & Public Safety Committee meeting. (CityCable)
The president of the East End Area Council (left) appeared alongside the club attorney and one of its owners Monday at Cincinnati's Law & Public Safety Committee meeting. (CityCable)

Allegations of murder, drug deals, and sex acts on stage are prompting Cincinnati police to fight for a local nightclub to lose its liquor license.

EAST END (FOX19) - The club in question? The Inner Circle on Kellogg Avenue.

On Monday, detectives told the Cincinnati Law and Public Safety Committee, made up of three city council members, that they've tackled violence, drug issues, a deadly beating, and now prostitution at the club - formerly known as Annie's - since 1982.

"These are all messages and signs that things are out of control there," said Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman and committee chairman.

"The straw that broke the camel's back," police told the committee, was a live rap concert in July 2017 called "Red, White, and Booty Bash."

Hosted by nationally known rapper Uncle Luke, the event advertised "the largest twerk contest in Ohio with a $500 cash giveaway."

Cincinnati police said the dance-off evolved into something else.

In cellphone videos reportedly taken that night and posted to YouTube, women were encouraged to engage in a sex act with each other to win money.

Police said evidence shows that four women "competed" by performing lewd acts in front of hundreds of people and then taking the cash.

"I think about my daughter, you know, we're in the #MeToo movement," Smitherman said after Monday's meeting. "We're clearly trying to send a message that this behavior is unacceptable."

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A lawyer for the owners of the club, Christopher Heekin, appeared before the committee Monday and said that the two men who own the club and it's land already have take extra safety precautions by hiring private security and off-duty police officers.

The owners, Greek immigrants with military backgrounds, have been an asset to the community, Heekin said.

"These are not people who are a problem," he told the committee.

But, he acknowledged, the concert caught them off guard.

They entered into a contract with Uncle Luke to come to town for an hour to run a concert "that evolved into lunacy," he conceded.

An East End neighborhood leader appeared alongside the club's attorney and one of the owners in a show of support.

"I must stand in defense of their business and in the honor of these gentlemen," said Patrick Ormand, the president of the East End Area Council.

The club owner who attended Monday's meeting, Pete Georgeton, told council members they didn't directly hire Uncle Luke or know his reputation.

"In all the years that I've been in business, never have I ever had anything (like that) on my stages," Georgeton said. "He just did that on his own, and when I first heard about it on the mic, I asked my security and said stop it right now."

But, he said he was told there would be a riot.

"I'm embarrassed, and I don't know what else to say," Georgeton told Smitherman and the other two committee members, Councilwoman Amy Murray and Councilman Jeff Pastor.

Smitherman said he was "appalled" by the situation with the club and ready to pass an objection to its liquor license renewal, which would then go on to state liquor control officials who will have final say.

"I am very shocked that we would have young ladies on the stage engaging in oral sex and there's an admission of not knowing what was going on inside the establishment," he said.

But Murray and Pastor expressed concerns and the need for more information before deciding, so the matter was tabled for at least another week.
The club owners are facing charges of procuring prostitution in a separate criminal case.

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