After FOX 5 Investigation, Rushern Baker to address concerns on adult entertainment clubs

We told you about Prince George's County's radio silence following our investigation into local establishments operating as strip clubs when in reality they are licensed as banquet halls.

In them, we found what appeared to be underage girls, naked women in back rooms and other illicit activities.

On Thursday, we had a confirmed interview with the licensing and permitting division for the county. It was an interview that already been canceled once, and after our follow-up story on Wednesday night, our second interview attempt scheduled for this morning was canceled yet again.

In January, FOX 5 took you inside two clubs for an exclusive look into what sex trafficking survivors say they have endured.

We went to Irving's and Club Fuego, both clubs located in Prince George's County. They are both licensed as banquets halls, but are operating as full-fledged strip clubs.

"Because people think the strip clubs are legit, they are not paying attention," said Tina Frundt, the founder of Courtney's House, an organization that helps victims of sex trafficking. "Let's just be honest. When people go to strip clubs, they are not exactly looking for minors. They are not going, ‘Let me look at her face and see how young she really is.' So it is actually the perfect place to traffic people in because it is a legit place on paper."

A few weeks ago, we joined concerned residents at a district council hearing. The county's uphill battle to properly define adult entertainment was evident, especially when it comes to clubs like Irving's and Fuego, whose owners applied for and were licensed to operate before adult entertainment was ever defined in the county.

On two separate occasions, FOX 5 has requested an interview with Prince George's County Inspections and Enforcement Deputy Director Gary Cunningham. While we were on route, that first interview was canceled.

On Thursday, while already at the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement building, a spokesperson from Cunningham's office came down to the lobby and pulled the plug yet again on our interview. This time, they referred us to County Executive Rushern Baker's office.

At the county administration building, we questioned a communications staff member to see if we could sit down with Baker for an interview.

Then the county executive came out and spoke with us. He said, "I saw your piece, and in fact, what I have asked [the staff member] to do is put together a press conference to deal with all the issues there. We look forward to talking you about the issues."

Baker has agreed to sit with FOX 5 following the press conference scheduled for Friday at 10:30 a.m. The county says they will hold it to finally answer questions their constituents have been asking for years.

"To see what exactly was going on, how long has this been going and why these businesses are still open?" Baker told us. "But the only way to get to that is to have every agency involved in it to be able to answer those questions."

Prince George's County says they will address "allegations of illegal activities taking place in certain banquet halls" as well as previous efforts "to shut down banquet halls and nightclubs that have been venues of criminal activity."

We can only hope questions will be answered and solutions provided.

In the meantime, Baker asks his constituents to dial 311 if they have any concern they would like addressed by the county.

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