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Published On: Thu, Aug 23rd, 2018

Strip club owner Tyrone Butler dodging the cost of Rev Richard Sandberg’s court fees after frivolous lawsuit was dismissed

Liberty Counsel has asked the 21st Judicial District Court to affirm and award the $55,000 in attorney’s fees and costs for the defense of Rev. Richard Sandberg for a frivolous lawsuit brought by Tyrone Butler, a local strip club owner, seeking to silence his efforts to advance moral policy in St. Helena Parish.

photo by Carrie Z. via pixabay

On July 31, 2013, Tyrone Butler, the owner of a local strip club in St. Helena Parish, filed a lawsuit against Rev. Sandberg and his organization, The Moral Alliance of St. Helena. Rev. Sandberg and other local pastors associated with his group were petitioning the local legislature to adopt a proposed ordinance regulating the behavior of patrons and employees of strip clubs and other sexually oriented businesses in St. Helena Parish. Butler’s strip club, euphemistically named a “Gentlemen’s Club,” has been the subject of raids and arrests for illegal drugs and prostitution.
As a result of Rev. Sandberg’s efforts to advance a moral and public welfare agenda in the legislative body, Butler filed a harassing lawsuit against him saying that he had defamed Butler and his business. However, it was Butler who was behaving in a harassing manner. Many of the pastors and religious community members speaking in support of the regulation of strip clubs were intimidated, harassed and confronted in public places by Butler. At a gas station in St. Helena, Butler approached one of the pastors and threatened to physically assault him and his family if he did not stop supporting the ordinance. The same day Rev. Sandberg was served with the complaint at his home, his dog was poisoned and died.

photo 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

Liberty Counsel filed a special motion to strike the complaint, arguing that the First Amendment protects Rev. Sanberg’s speech to public officials and that he was entitled to encourage the local legislature to reject Butler’s harassment and bullying. The court granted Liberty Counsel’s motion and dismissed the complaint against Reverend Sandberg.
After Butler’s frivolous lawsuit was dismissed and he failed to respond to numerous motions or appear at numerous hearings, he cried out to the court for relief from a judgment of attorney’s fees that the district court was statutorily obligated to impose on him for his reckless disregard for the law.Butler now appeals this case in the same manner he began it, by premising his argument on a fanciful and fictional account of the proceedings, by blaming everyone (including the district court) for the abysmal failures of his counsel, by ignoring outright the very existence of one of his attorneys, and by submitting an unquestionably frivolous argument to this court. Neither Butler’s fiction nor his arguments have any merit.
“This Louisiana strip club owner who tried to intimidate, harass, and bully pastors and religious leaders is now trying avoid the consequence of his actions, paying attorney’s fees that the district court was statutorily obligated to impose on him for his reckless disregard for the law,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The court awarded Liberty Counsel attorney’s fees and costs, and it’s time for Tyrone Butler to follow the law for a change and pay them,” said Staver.
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