Public sex in ND bar leads city council to decide bar should close for week, serve two years probation
HANKINSON, N.D. - The City Council here unanimously decided that a bar owner must close his business for a week starting Saturday, serve two years of probation and pay the city's legal fees as punishment after two 21-year-old patrons were charged with having public drunken sex in October.
Word - and cell phone camera images taken by other bar patrons - of the Oct. 12 incident inside the Spare Time Bar spread across the town within a few days, prompting city officials to call Richland County law enforcement authorities to investigate.
"It was texted everywhere," Mayor Joe O'Meara said of the incident. "Some (images) traveled to Florida, Colorado, Minnesota. ... It got into phones you don't want it to get to."
By the following Wednesday, O'Meara said he heard that school-age children had also received the cell phone images.
According to Richland County District Court papers, Joshua J. Fenske of Hankinson and Adriane E. Diede of Breckenridge, Minn., have each been charged with one count of fornication in a public place.
Fenske and Diede reportedly removed all of their clothing and performed sex acts in front of several other patrons in the late evening hours, Richland County investigator Josh Beto wrote in court complaints dated Nov. 5.
The City Council reached their 7-0 decision Wednesday night at the American Legion hall, where a hearing was held on whether to punish bar owner Roger Boutain for the incident even though he said he was not present at the time.
City Attorney Steve Lies and city council members questioned Boutain during the hearing about the incident. At issue was whether Boutain instructed his bar staff to not call law enforcement authorities unless something significant occurred and whether he should be punished because of the actions that took place.
A 21-year-old bartender was working the night of the incident and did not call authorities nor Boutain when the incident occurred. Boutain said the female worker had minimal bartending experience and had worked for five months. She was fired later that week.
Boutain said the incident was something the bartender should have reported.
"She didn't make an effort to call me - none of us could figure out why," Boutain said during the hearing.
Authorities said the sex lasted between a half-hour and 45 minutes and occurred toward the front portion of the bar.
More than 70 people filled the American Legion for the hearing with a few area residents asking the City Council to not punish Boutain too harshly.
Fenske and Diede were not at the hearing, but Fenske's grandfather Harold Fenske spoke out.
"I'm not defending my grandson," Harold Fenske said. "All I'm asking is that the council use good judgment in whatever they do and be kind."
The crowd applauded Fenske after he finished speaking.
The council voted to impose 30 days of suspension on Boutain with 23 days stayed, two years of probation and attorney and city fees related to the hearing. O'Meara said the costs could range from $1,000 to $1,200.
Boutain left the hearing immediately without comment.
Fenske is slated to appear in court Dec. 16 and Diede on Dec. 23 on the fornication Class A misdemeanor charges, according to court papers.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Benny Polacca at (701) 241-5504