PICO RIVERA – Pico Rivera officials voted last week to join a consent decree with the the city’s first and only strip club after a four-year legal fight to shut the establishment down. Under the new agreement, Imperial Showgirls, a strip club featuring all-nude female dancers, will be allowed to remain at its current location on Slauson Avenue until 2009, at which point it will have to leave permanently. In addition, the city’s own rules against lap dancing or tipping the dancers cannot be enforced against Imperial Showgirls, although the agreement does not prevent the city from imposing the rules on any other adult businesses that attempts to open in the city, said Jamie Casso, city attorney for Pico Rivera.The city must also pay the club’s owner, Leroy Smith, $97,000 in attorney fees, the consent agreement states.But does every adult establishment result in increased criminal and lewd behavior or prostitution in the area, as critics suggest?Wherever a strip club attempts to open its doors, community activists, religious leaders and residents inevitably make dire predictions of moral and neighborhood decay.When Imperial Showgirls opened in 2002, the Rev. Richard Ochoa led protesters who camped outside the club for 18 months until a court order forced Ochoa off the private property.Ochoa said that during the 18 months he protested against the club he saw plenty of moral turpitude and negative ramifications resulting from the club’s presence.“The club is terrible,” Ochoa said. “It fosters divorce, bad marriages, breakups … all the perversion that goes on in there. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the men that go in there can’t be very happily married. They come out with all that perversion in their minds.“During the time we were picketing, we saw very angry wives come to the doors. I witnessed women crying to their husbands to get out of there. It’s just a bad thing.”An anecdotal survey of area residents, however, did not reveal any spike in criminal behavior related to the club’s inception, although it remained unpopular. Also, officials at the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station said there was no significant crime associated with the club.Victor Godoy, 24, grew up on Passons Boulevard, around the corner from where Showgirls is located.“There’s no extra crime or trouble from it that I’m aware of,” Godoy said. “But it just feels kind of wrong. I grew up here. A lot of kids live around here and many of them pass it on their way home from school.”Even though Raymond Marmolejo, 60, worried about declining property values and increased crime when the Showgirls opened up, he said he has not witnessed such activity.“I’m not really against it – it’s the wrong place,” Marmolejo said. “There are too many kids here that walk past it to the 7-Eleven.”Two hefty bouncers guard the front entrance and ban patrons from bringing in handbags. According to state law, no alcohol is served on the premises. [email protected](562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!