A federal judge in Tacoma, Washington foiled a local man’s attempt on Thursday to gain access to strip club workers’ personal information for what he described as religious reasons, KIRO-TV reported.
“I would pray for those dancers by name,” David Van Vleet said after his petition was U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton. “That is one of many protected reasons.”
Van Vleet filed a request with the public auditors’ office in Pierce County earlier this month to view the entertainment licenses for 70 dancers and managers at a Parkland strip club. Dancers are required by state law to obtain a $75 entertainment license before they can begin working. The licensing information includes the workers’ real and stage names, as well as their pictures, physical descriptions and birthdays.
“I was trying to do something for the public good,” Van Vleet told KIRO.
Auditor Julie Anderson subsequently notified 125 employees at the club about Van Vleet’s intentions, telling the Bellingham Herald that she did so because of “the nature of their work.” Barring a court order, she said, she would have to comply with his request under the state’s public records law.
In response, two dancers, who identified themselves as “Jane Doe 1” and “Jane Doe 2,” filed a complaint saying that giving their information to Van Vleet could endanger them.
“I feel I could be harassed by Mr. Van Vleet or other people with nefarious intentions,” one of the women said in the complaint. “I could suffer the loss of my other job and relationships because of the disclosure.”
The Tacoma News Tribune reported that Van Vleet, a civil engineer by trade, represented himself at Thursday’s hearing. He told Leighton that he would not release the dancers’ information and that the Public Records Act granted him access to their records.
Leighton did agree that the law did not contain any provisions blocking the release of dancers’ personal information to the public, but still granted a preliminary injunction stopping Van Vleet. A hearing regarding a permanent injunction on the issue is scheduled for Dec. 15.
“He essentially silenced 7 million people in the state of Washington to protect 70 peoples’ so-called right to privacy who dance on a stage naked,” Van Vleet said after the hearing.
Watch KIRO’s report on Van Vleet’s request, as aired on Thursday, below.