Toronto Sun

May 18, 2002

Lap dance was hooking: Judge

By SAM PAZZANO -- Courts Bureau
Toronto Sun

Strippers who thrust their breasts into the faces of clothed patrons are committing "lewd acts of prostitution," an Ontario judge found yesterday in what a Crown attorney called a "landmark decision on lap dancing."

Justice Bruce Young convicted an absent Romeo Caringi, 45, of keeping a common bawdy house at the now-closed Diamond Dolls bar at 4749 Keele St. Caringi's strippers brushed their breasts on the faces of clothed undercover police officers in May 1999, said Young in his judgment.

Other acts that the judge deemed as sexual included the strippers putting their faces and exhaling into the customers' crotches and inviting the customers to kiss their nipples.

"These were lewd acts for payment for the purpose of sexual gratification -- that was certainly what was going on," Young said.

"(Caringi) knew acts of prostitution were going on and he was willfully blind to stop them and he actively encouraged the acts."

At trial, Caringi, of Woodbridge Ave., Woodbridge, denied there was any "funny business" at the club and said bouncers were instructed to alert him if they saw any illicit acts.

Crown attorney Calvin Barry said the judge's decision is a "landmark judgment by a senior judge" that expands the definition of acts of prostitution by lap dancers.

"You don't need sexual intercourse or masturbation or fellatio being performed to be considered an act of prostitution," Barry said.

Caringi will be sentenced June 5.

Copyright © 2002, Canoe, a division of Netgraphe Inc.