Tulsa Police Chief to ask city not to renew licenses for Midtown Art Theater

Thursday, August 31st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa Police want to close a downtown adult bookstore. After dozens of felony arrests at the Midtown Art Theater, they may get their wish. The News on Six has been looking into police recommendations to close down the sexually-oriented business. The theater’s three licenses expire Thursday, but the city won't be renewing any of the permits until they hear why the Tulsa Chief of Police wants the business closed.

Twenty-three separate felony arrests at the same location in a year and a half including indecent exposures and sexual batteries. That's why detective Pat Calhoun of the Tulsa Police Sex Crimes Division would like to see the Midtown Art Theater shut down. "I think that they've demonstrated that they are a nuisance in this community," he said.

Part of the police case against the Midtown stems from four arrests made in one night. Police say on August 17th, two men were arrested for sexual battery, and two for indecent exposure. Police are recommending that the City of Tulsa not renew three separate licenses for the theater. One permit allows Midtown to operate as an adult bookstore, the other two allows the theater to show sexually-oriented adult motion pictures. However, that's not the only reason police say the business is a nuisance.
"When an establishment like this is running covert prostitution out of their establishment, that's never gonna help anyone," Calhoun said.

According to a Tulsa ordinance, the Chief of Police has a right to recommend against license renewal if an applicant is unable to operate or manage a sexually-oriented business in a peaceful and law-abiding manner. City Finance Director Mike Kier is in charge of awarding city licenses. He says police will have a chance to state their case at a September hearing. "The purpose of the hearing would be for the police department to be able to go through why it is recommended that license not be approved," Kier explained.

Police say pornography is not victimless. They say studies show it's a gateway to sexual crimes. "I'm not saying that everyone who's used pornography is a rapist, that's not the case at all,” Calhoun said. “I've yet to meet a rapist that was not affected by pornography."

The Midtown Art Theatre licenses expire Thursday, but they will be allowed to operate until a final determination is made after the September 19th hearing. The News on Six tried to contact the owner of the theater. A store representative said they had no comment.