Church sues strip club over topless protests

Posted at 2:53 PM, Sep 11, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- An Ohio church has sued a strip club and its scantily clad staff for protesting topless outside the house of worship during the past five years.

New Beginnings Ministries in Warsaw alleges that the protesters have been threatening church members, blocking church entrances and exits and violating their right to religious freedom and the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, according to the federal lawsuit filed last Friday by the church's pastor, William Dunfee.

Young children were "forced to be exposed to multiple female topless defendants protesting" at the church, according to the lawsuit.

The defendants in the case include Thomas George, owner of the Foxhole strip club in rural Coshocton County, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The lawsuit is the latest round in a nine-year battle that began when church members protested at the Foxhole on weekends, posting patrons' license plate numbers online and urging them to repent. George sued the church in federal court and lost in 2009.

George said the claims are "very false" and said Dunfee told him nine years ago that he wanted to run the strip club out of business.

"I haven't threatened anyone," George said Thursday. Dunfee just doesn't like "a dose of his own medicine," he said.

Dunfee couldn't be reached for comment, and his attorney didn't return a message seeking comment.

Dunfee wants the court to order protesters stop blocking church entrances, intruding on church property or intimidating its members and guests.