Over 200 jobs lost as Providence Board of Licenses votes to close Foxy Lady

Charles Newton, Delia Rodriguez-Masjoan, Dylan Conley and Peter Mancini
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Today the Providence Board of Licenses decided, on a 3-1 vote, to close the Foxy Lady, after three misdemeanor charges of prostitution were brought against three workers in an undercover police sting on December 11.

“Merry Christmas! Thank you very much for ruining over 200 people’s lives,” said a woman who has worked as a manager at the Foxy Lady over thirty years. “This is ludicrous.”

Another woman was more pointed. “You are insane!” she shouted, at the three Providence Board of Licenses members who voted to shut down the club. “Clubs are still doing it, and you’re doing nothing about that. [Foxy Lady]’s done it once. Have a Merry Christmas!” she said, slamming the door on her way out. In the hallway she could be heard saying, “Fucking assholes!”

“We have over 130 entertainers who feel safe at our establishment. They are happy to work at our establishment,” said the manager with 30 years experience, who declined to be identified for this story.

Around 200 people were employed at the Foxy Lady in total. This includes entertainers, management, security, waitstaff, bartenders, dishwashers, cooks and support staff. Now, one week before Christmas, they are all unemployed.

“This is blatant, blatant, ugh! I don’t even know what to say. I am livid about the whole thing,” continued the manager. “Who’s to say that the cops – They didn’t have a wire on them. They didn’t wear a wire. They haven’t even gone to court, those girls. Ridiculous. Unbelievable.

“This is despicable, what they’re doing to the establishment,” continued the manager. “They slandered our entertainers. They posted their pictures in the paper. [The police] let them go that same night… Now [the police] are delaying their case.

“You put over 200 people who have Christmas time, who have families who come to our establishment to work in good faith, and they’re out of work now? It’s despicable, this city.”

“I can’t buy my kids a Christmas gift,” a woman who works at the Foxy Lady tells me, walking by. “Not one gift.”

“Yeah, exactly,” agreed the manager. “Of course not. It’s despicable what they did. But they allow these other places to stay open…”

The one vote in favor of keeping the Foxy Lady open was from former Providence City Council President Peter Mancini. Board Chair Dylan Conley and Board members Charles Newton, and Delia Rodriguez-Masjoan voted to close the club.

“It wasn’t proven to me that the establishment knew of it,” said Mancini. “If the establishment definitely knew about then that’s a different story. But it wasn’t proven to me 100 percent that they knew about it.”

Bella Robinson, director of COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) Rhode Island, which advocates for sex worker rights in the state, issued a statement co-signed by RICARES, TGI Network of Rhode Island, and the ACLU of Rhode Island that says, in part:

The raid on the Foxy Lady confirms that Rhode Island law enforcement’s policing of sex workers serves to harass and intimidate workers under the guise of protection. This raid is a grotesque misuse of taxpayer dollars to oppress adult women whose only alleged crime is selling services to consenting adults in a private location.

Criminalization of sex work has done absolutely nothing to curtail “the oldest profession.” Instead, it has led to increased rates of violence and stigma against sex workers, and even adverse health outcomes. A recent study showed that that repressive policing was associated with having three times the odds of experiencing sexual and physical violence from clients or other parties. That is why such diverse and respected groups as the World Health Organization, United Nations AIDS, and Amnesty International all recommend decriminalization of sex work to reduce violence against, and incidence of HIV among, sex workers.

For more, including an interview with the Foxy Lay’s attorney Fausto Anguilla, see WPRI/Channel 12 reporter Dan McGowan‘s coverage here.

Here’s the video of the Providence Board of Licenses meeting:

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About Steve Ahlquist 1059 Articles
Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade.Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading.atomicsteve@gmail.com

1 Comment

  1. I’d like to say that this miscarriage of justice shocks me, but that would be a lie. The fact that these people even saw fit to vote on this matter before the accused have had their days in court make it abundantly clear that they’re biased in this matter and sets a dangerous precedent. This makes the statement that based purely on accusations alone, without even the first conviction, that a business can be shut down and everyone from the lowest employee all the way to the owners, and all of the various support businesses and their employees can be made to suffer and be punished before any charges have been proven or disproven. Of equal concern, unless this seemingly otherwise capable reporter failed to report that charges had been filed against the management and or owner(s?) of the club for promoting prostitution or letting the premises for prostitution, or some other similar charges, these people have seen fit to close and punish a business when there hasn’t even been an allegation that anyone with any control over the business was even aware of any illegal activity taking place.

    Based on this vote, if one used hotels as an example, this would open the door for the Hilton to be shut down and closed, having all of their business licenses revoked, all of their employees finding themselves unemployed, after the police conducted a sting and charged some people with prostitution or to change the dynamic for this hypothetical, distribution of narcotics. The police in this hypothetical find no evidence or reason to believe that anyone associated with the operation of the hotel has any part of any wrongdoing or even knowledge of these alleged actions, no judge or jury has heard any evidence, much less made a conviction, yet the the business owner and all who benefit from its operation are penalized.

    What happens if the charges are dropped, or even worse, if the police are found to have wrongly arrested and charged those accused without the first shred of evidence, or even worse, if the police had some ulterior motive or had been influenced by some financial benefit? Would these three people be responsible for the lost income and all associated damages suffered by each individual party? If so, would that financial responsibility fall on the officers, the police department, the board members, or would the taxpayers end up footing the bill for everything?

    In any case, the members of this board have circumvented the law, usurped the power of the courts, and by their actions, have placed themselves, the people they supposedly represent, and their municipalities in a potentially libel position. I’ll be curious to see the outcome of all this, and sincerely hope that these board members are taken to task for their actions.

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