Central El Paso strip club, the Cabaret, closed its doors for good earlier this year. The owners didn't know that at the time. Back in February, the El Paso County Attorney's Office filed a temporary restraining order against The Cabaret, and accused the owners of violations including prostitution, selling alcohol without a license, and one aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

According to a settlement reached by the club's owners and the El Paso County Attorney's Office, the owners will not re-open the Cabaret on Montana, and will not be able to open any "sexually oriented business unless properly licensed by the City of El Paso."

I posed a few follow-up questions to Elhiu Dominguez, the Special Projects Coordinator with the County Attorney's Office:

1. Is this a plea deal that was made with the owners? If so, why was the decision made to not prosecute them? It seems like a lot of infractions for not a lot of return on law enforcement.
The County Attorney's Office did not file criminal charges in this case because in El Paso that authority is jurisdiction of the District Attorney's Office. The County Attorney's Office filed a civil lawsuit seeking a Temporary Restraining Order in response to information provided by law enforcement and TABC. The Court granted the Temporary Restraining Order against the owners and ordered the establishment be closed. Thereafter, the owners of the Cabaret and the El Paso County Attorney's Office signed a civil agreement, not a plea agreement, which closed the establishment for good. The County Attorney's Office has jurisdiction to file a civil lawsuit, as was done in this case; however, it does not have jurisdiction to prosecute criminally the establishment, the owners, or any employees who might have been breaking the law. It is important to mention that some of the individuals involved in the case are facing or will face criminal charges but there was no mention of it in the press release because those actions are not part of the civil case filed by the County Attorney’s Office.

2. Why was so much time put into keeping them in business if they were chronic lawbreakers and the neighborhood was trying to get law enforcement to do its job and stop the lawlessness?
No efforts were made by the County Attorney's Office to "keeping them in business." Rather, when reports were provided to this office outlining the illegal activities, the Nuisance Abatement Team responded by filing a civil lawsuit. The goal of the Nuisance Abatement Team is to abate nuisances in the community using the tools provided by the civil law, not to shut down businesses or seize properties as customary under the criminal law. The Unit files civil lawsuits to force property owners to negotiate changes to their properties or their operations to abate nuisances or criminal activity. The Nuisance Abatement Team of the County Attorney’s Office was created in 2016, and they began receiving referrals from law enforcement officers about the Cabaret just last year. Residents in the area have been complaining about the club for a long time, but until recently, the County Attorney’s Office did not have any way to address those complaints.