12/17/04 — Injunction keeps Doll House closed, at least temporarily

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Injunction keeps Doll House closed, at least temporarily

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on December 17, 2004 1:59 PM

A preliminary injunction was issued Thursday in Wayne County Superior Court against the owner of The Doll House on U.S. 70 east of Goldsboro because of alleged prostitution.

The action keeps the establishment closed, at least temporarily.

During a brief hearing, the owner, Andy Howard of Mill Run Place, did not deny allegations of prostitution that were spelled out in the complaint. But he said he did not see what happened behind closed doors.

Howard testified that he made a 50 percent commission from his dancers."He testified that the dancers charged $40 for 20 minutes and $60 or $80 for longer times. He said they also may get tips from the customers.

Jerry Braswell, the senior resident Superior Court judge for Wayne County, issued the preliminary injunction. He ordered that the business remain closed until another hearing is held in January to determine if the injunction should be made permanent.

Braswell had issued a temporary restraining order against the business earlier in December.

District Attorney Branny Vickory had filed a civil nuisance abatement lawsuit against the business "in an effort to be responsive to citizen complaints." He said, "The illegal activities at this business were a detriment to the community."

Sheriff Carey Winders said deputies, Goldsboro police and state Alcohol Law Enforcement Division officers had conducted a covert operation that had resulted in numerous solicitations for acts of prostitution.

Vickory and Winders said they had notified the property owner, William Edward Zehnder, about the illegal activities but said they had continued.

"He failed to address our concerns," Vickory said. "This action was a last resort for us."

The public nuisance abatement case is the second undertaken by the District Attorney's Office in Wayne County. In 2002, a similar action shut down a bar in Goldsboro after complaints about law violations. The business, C&L Restaurant and Lounge at 614 N. John St., was the site of two unsolved fatal shootings and other aggravated assaults.