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Profitable Cherry Pit swingers club is no casual affair, says Duncanville
08:11 AM CDT on Thursday, July 24, 2008
By JON NIELSEN / The Dallas Morning News
DUNCANVILLE â€“ The Cherry Pit is more than a weekend hangout for a few consenting adults.
For the owners of the swingers club, it's a profitable enterprise where sex, booze and guns collide.
Cherry Pit sex club had plenty of liquor, too
According to court documents released Wednesday, sex parties are held at the home in the 1300 block of North Cedar Ridge Drive every Friday and Saturday for 50 to 80 people, or 80 to 100 during special events and holidays. The documents showed that more than 7,000 people have attended parties there in the last year and that the owners can earn $10,000 per month.
Duncanville is trying to shut down the Cherry Pit, which city officials say is an illegal sexually oriented business. City Manager Kent Cagle has said that investigators are building a larger case that also includes charges of organized criminal activity, prostitution, narcotics trafficking and money laundering.
Cherry Pit's attorney, Ed Klein, said authorities have trumped up the charges against the Cherry Pit owners â€“ Jim Trulock and Julie M. Norris â€“ because the city's ordinance last fall targeting the business failed to shut its doors.
"It's the shotgun approach. They're going to try to allege whatever they can and see what sticks," said Mr. Klein.
State officials, city police raid Duncanville swingers' club
An informant told police that patrons can openly solicit sex acts from others using "fun money" purchased in a manner similar to buying tokens to play a game at an amusement park.
So when authorities stormed the sex club last weekend, they found the expected: a stripper pole, bondage devices and thong underwear draped from the ceiling.
But what they didn't expect to find was hundreds of bottles of liquor and a cache of loaded guns.
The stash of liquor and weapons brought in state authorities, prompting a second raid Tuesday that resulted in the seizure of the liquor.
In the court documents, the informant who attended a party this month vividly describes a place where patrons walk around in the nude, condoms are rarely used, bed sheets appear to not be changed and the tepid hot tub water where sex acts occur isn't chemically treated.
Mr. Trulock, 59, explained to the informant that he has the right to host private parties in his own home.
"Trulock compared his sexually oriented business to a church group holding a barbecue and charging a $10 admittance to cover the cost of the food," the affidavit said.
Most patrons are usually asked for a $50 donation to attend a party. Females are usually admitted free, because Mr. Trulock says that single females attract male attendees.
Patrons also are asked to sign a waiver saying they won't sue the Cherry Pit over any injuries that occur or any sexually transmitted diseases contracted.
Making their way through the home, investigators found that a portion of the Cherry Pit is blocked off as a private residence. The public area has a kitchen, bedrooms, a bar stocked with more than 300 bottles of liquor, a dance floor and a hot tub area.
In some of the rooms, pornographic video is displayed on televisions and a disc jockey plays music from the second floor, which overlooks a dance floor. One of the doors to a room displays a sign: "Caution: Adults at Play."
"Another room contains six mattresses pushed together and couches along the wall, on which the informant has witnessed five to 10 couples engaging in sexual intercourse within plain of view of those in attendance," the document said.
One room has a bondage wall and couch.
The informant also saw the hot tub area where a couple was having sex.
"After the couple left, the informant saw 'Jim' skim the top of the water with a net and then empty the contents of the net into the trash."
City officials say residents who live near the Cherry Pit have complained about the activity at the home. Residents say that cars line North Cedar Ridge Drive when there's a party.
The city has posted "no parking" signs in front of the home. When there's nowhere to park, the informant said, patrons are shuttled in from another location.
From the road, trees and brush block the view to the front of the home. A video camera sits perched at the end of the driveway monitoring outside activity. Mr. Trulock told the informant that nobody walks on his property without his knowledge.
"The informant also heard 'Jim' tell a female attendee that he placed 'no trespassing' signs on the property, which gave him permission to legally shoot anyone who came on the property."
In a city news release issued Wednesday, police Detective Dan Hunt said the Cherry Pit's owners are endangering and exploiting patrons.
"Individuals that elect to participate in the swingers' lifestyle behind closed doors should not be charged to do so, and they should not be exposed to disease, fire hazards, or any other dangerous hazardous environment. They [the owners] are taking advantage of swingers while claiming to be champions for their cause."
But the couple's attorney, Mr. Klein, said the city is wasting its time and money.
"It's my opinion that the city is going to squander whatever resources it can to get rid of these people," he said.
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