SANFORD, Maine — The ordinary, warehouse-looking building was holding anything but ordinary parties every month.
Inside a former Knights of Columbus hall in Sanford, dozens of people have been showing up for the past four months to get naked and perform sex acts in the open, police said Wednesday. Nothing criminal was going on, but town officials have ordered a local catering business to stop holding the sex parties inside its leased banquet hall.
Police were alerted to the parties after several residents raised concerns about activity inside the Great Beginnings Catering hall, nestled between a house and a pizza parlor near downtown Sanford, about 35 miles southwest of Portland.
The parties were advertised on the Internet and had a disc jockey and a buffet table, police Chief Tom Connolly said. When two undercover officers paid the $30 admission fee for a couple and attended a party there on Oct. 15, police said, they came away appalled.
“The officers were shocked by the open performance of sex acts everywhere in this place,” Connolly said. “They literally said everywhere you turned around there was an open sex act occurring and nobody was hiding it — boom, it was there.”
There were no signs of prostitution, drugs or other criminal violations at the club, Connolly said. Cars with license plates from Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York were in the parking lot.
But the town’s code enforcement officer sent a letter to the catering firm’s owners, Jim and Susan Colley, informing them they were in violation of several town codes. The letter added that operating a swingers’ club “disturbs the peace of others of ordinary sensibilities and violates community standards of public decency.”
Jim Colley sent an email to town officials Wednesday saying no more parties would be held at the hall. He said there was no intent to violate town codes or to embarrass the community, the building owner or themselves.
News of a sex club in town came as a surprise to some townspeople. Sanford, a former textile mill town with 20,000 residents, has conservative values and church-going people, Connolly said.
Sex clubs are something you might expect in a big city, but not in a sleepy place like Sanford, said resident Destiny Flaherty, 18.
“I knew we were getting bad, but I didn’t think it was this bad,” she said. “It’s out of control.”