PALM SPRINGS (CBS) — Hundreds of “certain individuals” are threatening legal action against the owners of a Palm Springs nudist resort over its policy of not allowing children on the premises.
Desert Sun Resort owners and Orange County residents John and Elizabeth Young filed a lawsuit March 16 in Orange County Superior Court against 500 unnamed defendants asking a judge to rule that the resort’s policy against children does not violate state law.
KNX 1070′s Margaret Carrero reports the couple were dumbfounded when they received a letter last month seeking penalties and damages over their policy against allowing kids on their property.
The lawsuit was filed in response to a letter the Youngs received Feb. 17 from Palm Springs attorney David Baron — written on behalf of “certain individuals” — which threatened legal action against the clothing-optional resort “for maintaining and enforcing a No Children Allowed Policy and a Couples-Only Day Pass Policy”.
“The first three years of business we allowed children, and we really felt that there was some kind of liability for a child being on property and maybe being photographed or worse,” Elizabeth Young said.
Baron disagrees and insists the policy is a “clear case of discrimination” fueled more by money than by protecting kids from pedophiles.
Young said her attorneys asked Baron to identify the “certain individuals” who were threatening legal action, but the request went
unanswered. With the letter alleging that the resort was opening itself to “ongoing and mounting statutory damages,” the Youngs opted to go to court to have a judge review the no-children policy.
The Desert Sun Resort website describes its accommodations as “adult only”. California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination by businesses based on age, ancestry, color, disability, national origin, race,religion, sex and sexual orientation.
Elizabeth Young said the resort, which she and her husband bought in 2008, did not previously have any prohibitions against children. But the Youngs changed the policy last year, saying they wanted to protect children.
“We changed the rule last year after seeing all the news stories of child porn,” she said.
She said the resort, which has 32 hotel rooms and 59 condominiums on six acres, gets more than 10,000 visitors a year from around the world, and 40 percent of them are first-time visitors. She said she cannot guarantee that every guest has good intentions toward children.
The resort prohibits public sexual behavior and the use of cameras, cell phones and laptops throughout most of the premises, but “violations do occur,” Young said.
“(We) do not want to be responsible, legally or morally, for pictures taken at the resort that could be posted on websites that exploit pictures of nudist children in order to serve pedophiles,” according to a statement issued by the Youngs.
The Youngs cited recent examples, such as a guest at a nudist camp in Texas who was sentenced to 50 years in prison for filming children, an officer of a nudist club in Canada who was sentenced to five years in prison for child pornography and a couple from England who were sentenced to 12 years in prison for setting up an online nudist forum as cover for a pedophile ring.
Guests at Desert Sun Resort are required to be nude in the resort’s three pools, two spas and pool decks. They can be optionally nude anywhere else at the resort, including the tennis court, gym, firepit areas, cafe and nightclub.
According to the Youngs’ statement, if the resort is forced to abandon its no-kids policy, “it would be an open question whether other clothing-optional resorts, swinger resorts and gay resorts with less strict policies on sexual conduct could also be forced to allow children.”
Elizabeth Young told reporters she and her husband believe they are “on the right side of the law.”
“I will close the resort before I put one child in harm,” she said.
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