A group of nuns in Stone Park is suing a strip club operating next door, saying the club is operating illegally close to a place of worship.
The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo say in the suit that Club Allure, located next to the garden in the nuns’ backyard, has plagued them with drunken fights, blinking neon lights, loud noise and used condoms.
But an attorney for the strip club says it’s a good neighbor and it isn’t going anywhere.
The suit, filed on the nuns’ behalf by the Thomas More Society against Club Allure and the Village of Stone Park, states that the club violates a state law against operating adult entertainment within 1,000 feet of a school or place of worship.
Dean Krone, an attorney for the village of Stone Park, said that the state law is unconstitutional because it is overly broad in prohibiting such uses within one mile of houses of worship. That would eliminate any site in the village. But under the 1st Amendment guaranteeing freedom of expression, Krone said, the courts have ruled that municipalities may not put blanket bans on strip clubs.
Village board members initially denied a strip club proposed by the same owners in 2009, Krone said, but when the owners sued, the village settled the suit by allowing the club, to avoid spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
The convent is home to active nuns, retired nuns, and novices considering becoming nuns.
“The Sisters have every right to pray and work peacefully without disruption from a strip club in their backyard,” Peter Breen, attorney for the Thomas More Society, stated in a news release. “We are fighting for the rights of the Sisters, neighboring families, and people of Melrose Park. The Illinois state zoning law provides for their protection, and they deserve to have the law enforced.”
Part of the convent is located in Melrose Park, which is also a plaintiff in the suit.
The nuns are planning to hold a news conference tomorrow afternoon with their attorneys, as well as other neighbors, to discuss more about the lawsuit.
An attorney for Club Allure says he intends to file a counter lawsuit. He also says he expects this case to be dismissed.