DuPage judge blocks restraining order to close 'adult' photo studio near Wheaton
A DuPage County judge blocked prosecutors' efforts Monday to shut down the Hot Shots Photography Studio near Wheaton after authorities alleged it is operating as an adult business in an improper zone.
The state's attorney's office filed the 25-page complaint Feb. 28 against the business at 0N758 Gary Ave. alleging violations of county zoning ordinances and state statutes regarding the location of adult entertainment facilities and adult business uses.
They say the business is adjacent to a residentially zoned property and within 1,000 feet of a school, an active recreation facility and a church, each of which violates the county's zoning ordinance.
Prosecutors on March 7 sought the temporary restraining order, which called for the business to be sealed and secured and to prohibit the owner from entering the grounds.
Judge Robert Gibson said shutting the business at this point in the litigation would not be appropriate.
"It's not an emergency that would justify shutting down a business, which is an extraordinary remedy," Gibson ruled.
Prosecutors argued Hot Shots placed personal ads on adult websites commonly used to advertise escort services. Respondents would be screened by an employee of Hot Shots and then directed to the Gary Avenue location.
Once they entered the business, according to the lawsuit, they were charged $100 as a cover fee and then directed to a room to meet an employee and discuss services and payment that ranged from $500 to $1,500.
After receiving payment, employees of Hot Shots would engage in sexual activity, according to the lawsuit.
DuPage sheriff's deputies began an undercover investigation that included a deputy visiting the location and paying for "experiences" with scantily clad women in November and February. No sex acts were performed, however, because prosecutors say the female employees determined the officer was in law enforcement after he refused to perform an act used to differentiate officers from customers.
Daniel Hefter, representing the business owner, said the officer's own affidavit proves the business was acting legitimately.
"The officer repeatedly asked for sex and the officer was repeatedly told 'no,' Any activity that was prohibited did not happen," Hefter argued. "The only nudity was the officer himself and the employee covered him up."
Assistant State's Attorney Conor McCarthy then asked why a legitimate photo studio "would need a screening process" to filter out police officers.
Ultimately Gibson ruled that one officer, visiting twice within 66 days and not engaging in sexual activity, coupled with the fact that the state waited three weeks after the second visit to file its complaint, did not constitute an emergency worthy of immediately shuttering the business.
"This determination has no bearing on the ultimate merits of the case which will be litigated," Gibson said.
The case will next be heard in about a month, but no exact date was set.