Friday, May 25, 2001

Liquor commission delays
sexual misconduct hearing

Club Yokohama now has until
end of July to prepare its case

By Leila Fujimori

The Honolulu Liquor Commission, with two reluctant commissioners, has continued a hearing on sexual misconduct and other charges against a Honolulu hostess bar.

The five-member commission yesterday voted 3-1 to postpone the hearing with one person absent and another changing his mind and voting with majority.

Club Yokohama faces possible revocation of its liquor license and thousands of dollars in fines.

Its attorney, William Harrison, said he did not have sufficient time to prepare for the case because his client wasn't notified of the hearing until May 4, long after the alleged violations in September.The club was cited March 23 for employees soliciting or accepting food or drinks as gifts while on duty, allowing persons to touch the private parts of themselves or another person directly or through clothing, allowing persons to remain on premises while unclothed or in revealing attire, permitting a person on the premises to perform or simulate sexual acts, time card violations and for employees' failure to register with the commission.

Liquor Commission Chairman John Spierling said the commission had received numerous protests from the community and local and state lawmakers against the club at Queen and Cooke streets.

He called the case highly unusual due to the large number of charges.

Harrison said commissioners should not allow publicity to influence their decision and urged them to give both parties equal consideration.

"They may be poisoned by what they've learned through letters and comments," Harrison said. "They should be fair and impartial and not be concerned with what's out there. They should just look at the evidence."

Harrison said he and other attorneys represent employees on criminal charges of prostitution. He said several have been dismissed and no one has been convicted. He said the cases resulted from sting operations by the police and often entrapment was employed. The prostitution allegations were, in effect, lap-dancing cases, he said.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Duane Pang had reservations about allowing the case to go forward though he was prepared with witnesses ready to testify.

"I am afraid if the judge finds that Mr. Harrison did not have enough time, we will return here," Pang said.

Spierling changed his mind and voted along with two other commissioners to continue the case, which will be heard at the end of July.

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