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To 'Pray' for Strippers, Wash. Man Wants Names, Addresses, Pics

By William Peacock, Esq. on October 27, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Washington man insists he only wants to pray for strippers, not prey on them.

Still, a legal battle is unfolding over David Van Vleet's public records request for the names and addresses of as many as 125 exotic dancers. In Washington state, showgirls are required to get a $75-a-year license, which lists the applicant's name, date of birth, address, a full-color photo, and other identifying information, reports The Huffington Post. And Van Vleet says that he needs those full names and addresses in order to pray for them by name.

As public records, with no provision in the law to protect the strippers' privacy, the applications would seem to be open to any inquisitive individual with a taste for salvation. But the dancers, and a strip club manager, have taken action to block the request.

Request Blocked ... for Now

Van Vleet's request was handled by Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson. By law, she would be required to turn over the records, unless a court stepped in first. Her response was to tip off the 125 license holders. Two dancers, "Jane Doe 1" and "Jane Doe 2," filed a complaint in federal court, seeking a preliminary injunction (a temporary court order) to block the request, reports Raw Story.

U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton agreed that the law didn't block the request, but granted a temporary order anyway, with a full hearing set for December 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.

Public Records Requests

Generally, non-sensitive federal public records can be accessed under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), while state records are often available under similar state laws. These laws allow citizens to file requests with the appropriate government agency to get copies of public records, usually for a minimal fee to cover the cost of pulling and copying the records.

While the laws are generally a boon for the press and inquisitive citizens, they can become a problem when sensitive information is requested.

Of course, all of this could have been prevented if Washington's law that requires exotic dancers to have a license kept those applications under wraps. Without such protection, it may be too late to block Van Vleet's request.

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