PORTLAND (AP) – Maine’s highest court has affirmed a lower court ruling that a Bangor strip club violated city ordinances and cannot feature nude dancers.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday also ordered Diane Cormier-Youngs, owner of Diva’s, to pay a $2,000 fine for allowing dancers to perform in pasties and thongs. Bangor ordinances require exotic dancers to wear the equivalent of bikini tops and bottoms.

City Solicitor John Hamer said he was pleased, but not surprised, at the court’s ruling that the club was violating the city ordinance.

“That had been pretty clear to us,” he said.

In the decision written by Chief Justice Leigh Saufley, the court stated that the ordinance is “a content-neutral regulation that serves very important governmental interests that are unrelated to the suppression of free expression.”

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court also ruled the ordinance’s “incidental restriction on free speech is no greater than is necessary to achieve the government’s purpose and provides reasonable alternative avenues for expression.”

Diva’s was cited for violations of Bangor’s ordinance on June 22 and June 26, 2001. Bangor police said they observed dancers wearing only G-strings and pasties on at least eight other occasions.

Police Chief Don Winslow said Tuesday his office regularly checks up on Cormier-Youngs’ dancers to make sure they are 18 years old, but has not cited the club for further violations of nudity laws.

Cormier-Youngs could not be reached immediately for comment.

A federal lawsuit filed by Cormier-Youngs challenging the constitutionality of the ordinances was stayed in December 2001 pending the outcome of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court appeal.

Hamer said he expected the lawsuit to move forward in light of Tuesday’s law court decision.

AP-ES-04-16-03 1017EDT

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