A former dancer at an Atlanta strip club testified Wednesday she saw a stripper perform a sex act on basketball star Patrick Ewing as the club's owner watched.
Debbie Pinson said owner Steve Kaplan repeatedly ignored her complaints about illegal sex and rampant drug use at Atlanta's Gold Club.
She said Kaplan advised her: "I told you to mind your own business. You won't be complaining when we are sitting in the front row at Madison Square Garden."
Kaplan and six associates are on trial in a racketeering case. Prosecutors say the defendants cheated patrons, funnelled money to the mob and used the lure of sex with club dancers to attract celebrities, including pro athletes.
Meanwhile, Toronto Raptors star Antonio Davis filed a $50-million US lawsuit Wednesday against a former manager of the club after he said Davis was among the athletes having sex with the dancers. Davis denies the allegations.
"They have been hurtful to me, my wife and my family," Davis said Wednesday during a news conference at the National Basketball Players' Association offices.
The suit, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., and assigned to U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie, claims defamation and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Pinson testified Wednesday that Kaplan and two dancers were in a VIP room at the club in 1996 with Ewing and Toronto Raptor Charles Oakley, both New York Knicks at the time, when a stripper performed oral sex on Ewing.
Ewing's agent did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.
Ewing played centre last season for the Seattle SuperSonics.
Pinson, who was also a club manager, said she quit in 1996 because "I had some issues with things going on in the club."
She testified that club customers and employees regularly used cocaine, ecstasy and the date-rape drug GHB and that Kaplan once refused to call an ambulance after a dancer overdosed.
She said the owner encouraged drug and alcohol use by strippers, claiming it improved their performances.
Pinson said dancers often placed the thumbs of drunken men on charge slips to show that the patrons had agreed to the charges.
"I tried to stop this," she testified. "I told Steve, `You're ripping people off.
"You need to run this place legit. You've got to control it.
You've got to run this place like a business."'