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Date of Issue: July 12, 2008

Internet sex party offer leads to Holmes Beach residence

porn house
This house at 5601 Flotilla Drive in Holmes Beach, a licensed rental property, was booked last week for sex parties and photo shoots for an Internet pornography site. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

A pornographic Web site advertising sex parties from May 6 to May 12 for members of a club was traced last week to a Holmes Beach residence that was used as the site for the parties.

The Web site included accompanying explicit photographs depicting sex acts at the club's parties and photos of the interior of the home, although the address for the party had to be obtained by registering for the party.

Acting on a tip and gossip that swirled around the neighborhood about the nude parties and sunbathing at the house, The Islander confirmed that the home advertised for the parties was indeed the home at 5601 Flotilla Drive and contacted the owners.

The house featured as the "party mansion" is owned by Scott and Deanne Hopp. They handle their own rentals and say they have been renting the home weekly for up to two years.

It is located across from the Island Branch Library, and just a few yards from the Holmes Beach City Hall and the Holmes Beach police station. It's also less than 100 yards from a school bus stop that elementary, middle school and high school students use every day during the school year, including last week.

While the pornographic Web site claimed the canalfront house used for the party was located on Clearwater Beach, photographs of the interior of the house, including the uniquely designed pool and fountain inside, match the photographs at Floridavacations.com where the Hopps advertise their rental property.

The party Web site states that anyone can attend any of the parties if they pre-register and pay a fee, or attend free if they agree to have their photo taken during the sexual activities that take place at the events. The site shows in detail photographs of "activities" sponsored by the club, registered attendees, the schedule of parties and other "events."

Hopp was outraged when he learned that his property was being marketed for the events.

"I'm shocked. I had no idea. I'm going to go down there and evict them right away. It's supposed to be for families only," he said last Thursday.

Deanne Hopp said she rented the house to a man who said he was bringing his "family" from Sarasota. She declined to give the man's name.

Scott Hopp added that he was waiting for advice from his attorney before proceeding, advice that apparently didn't arrive by Thursday evening (May 11). The party that night appeared to go on as scheduled.

At least 19 vehicles were either parked at the house or in the library parking lot that evening. Several couples were observed entering the house, and one man entered with what appeared to be professional video camera gear. Several men stood outside the house most of the evening, apparently acting as bodyguards or bouncers for the indoor activities.

On Friday, Deanne Hopp said it was "frustrating because we've been unable to get them out."

She said she called the "family" who was renting the house Thursday and they claimed they were doing nothing illegal.

"I'm trying to see if I can get them evicted because they are not a family, but they are due out Saturday. It's really upsetting me and it scares me to death to think that this could happen," she added.

Although the tenant claimed that nothing illegal was taking place at the Island home, the pictures of the house on the pornographic Web site were changed on Friday at the Hopps' insistence.

"Very mysterious," said Deanne Hopp, who thought that unauthorized use of the pictures might be a violation.

The party Web site featuring the Hopps home listed Art Hammer of the Florida Mandingos Club as a contact and gives a telephone number with a 239 area code. Area code 239 is in the Fort Myers/Naples area. The newspaper's efforts to reach Hammer for comment were unsuccessful.

Scott Hopp indicated the photos were "pirated" from the vacation Web site that wife Deanna used to market the property and that he had ordered them removed from the "party" site and they were immediately removed, he said.But the "party" had been going on all week and some neighbors who observed the parties and discovered the Web site failed to notify the Hopps, much to their dismay when they learned of the nature of the parties and the Web site.

Scott Hopp said his wife is "devastated" by the discovery that their property was being used in the manner portrayed on Hammer's Web site.

On several nights last week, more than 20 cars were parked at the property, neighbors say, and many remained all week.

"People would be outside at night smoking a cigarette. It sure didn't look like a family to me," said one neighbor, who asked not to be identified.

The porn site advertised May 6-12 as its fourth annual week of parties and offered a schedule of events.

Those activities included a nude boat cruise on May 7, a nude pool party the same day and a noon to 8 p.m. photo session on Friday, May 12, followed by "XXXtreme Swing Party."

But Friday night's party was a different story for the Mandingo Club.

Officers from the Homes Beach Police Department visited the home around 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Hopps request, according to Scott Hopp, to inform the occupants that the lease prohibits parties and any activities that draw complaints. He said there's a "stipulation that any disturbance to the neighbors, and you have to go."

He attempted to hire a deputy from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office to watch over the property Friday night but there wasn't time, he said.

The house remained quiet for the evening and the few cars that remained departed shortly after 8 p.m. and a truck remained in one driveway - and it was being packed for departure.

The Hopps received a license to operate the property as a rental unit from Holmes Beach on June 4, 2004. The license, however, states the property has only three bedrooms and three baths and just 3,097 square feet.

However, the Web site for Sky Sotheby real estate, which has the home on the market, lists the house as having seven bedrooms, six baths and 5,000 square feet of space with an accompanying boat house.

HBPD Chief Jay Romine said he has launched an investigation into the activities at the house, but the initial legal opinion he's received is that whatever's going on inside is not illegal as long as there are only consenting adults participating.

Without any specific complaint or violation of the law, it's really up to the landlord to get rid of them, Romine indicated.

Romine said that "after much study, deliberation and discussion with the unit at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office that handles this sort of situation, we have come to the decision that as morally shocking as this thing is to have in our back yard, there is no statutory violation that anyone can come up with on what they are doing."

The HBPD indicated it had referred the issue of weekly rentals at the home to code enforcement, saying city ordinances allow only monthly rentals in the residential neighborhood and that the chief would be looking into amending the city's rental ordinance to prohibit commercial use of residential rentals.

Police also noted a discrepancy in the city-issued rental license and the advertised number of bedrooms at the property.

Reaction from one local real estate agent who rents units on a weekly basis and who learned of the sex party was that the landlord should take immediate action. "Absolutely, it's up to the landlord.

"If I found out something like this was going on at one of my units, I'd be down there immediately if not sooner and just throw them out. Give them a refund for whatever days they have left and get rid of them," he said.

Another owner of cottage rentals echoed the same opinion, saying "I'd throw them out right away."

 

Temptation comes to AMI

Cindy Leger of Tampa Temptations, an entertainment company that pairs with Art Hammer, Mandingo parties and Jem Diamond Entertainment LLC, said Friday night that she rented the Hopps' home on Flotilla Drive in Holmes Beach for "entertainment" and safety.

She said that when they checked out the home, they saw police cars frequently driving by and they thought the home was in a secure neighborhood.

But when Scott and Deanna Hopp, who rented the home to Cindy and Kevin Thomas of Diamond Entertaintment, learned from The Islander what was being promoted on the Internet at their home, they insisted the parties be canceled - and notified their lawyer to determine if there was legal cause to evict the renters.

Leger said that the final Friday night party was not canceled, but rather moved to a "banquet hall" where they could better preview the video presentation prepared for the evening's entertainment, and that the choice was made to avoid having her clients harassed.

"I don't want my clients harassed or brutalized by police," she said after Holmes Beach Police arrived at 5:30 that afternoon at the Hopps' request to halt the party. "So, we decided to move the party and vacate the house early," Leger said.

She was there with a friend Friday evening, packing and cleaning the house, when she called police to report her pickup truck had been vandalized and her companion's fishing gear stolen. The driver's side window was broken, the glove box had been broken into and the contents dumped.

That brought police back to the home around 10:30 p.m., searching the property and a neighboring yard for signs of any stolen goods.

Two friends of Leger's came to help find her property and she talked freely about her business.

Leger said they're not "wild" parties, like college students might have. "We're not wild. We don't break things or cause disturbances."

She did, however, concede that explicit sex acts depicted on the Web from the photo shoots could be considered by some to be "wild."

This type of "event" happens more than folks on Anna Maria Island know, she said. "These parties happen all the time. It's going on and you just don't know."

Leger also said that Mandingo has rented and hosted a party on the Island once before. "Parties" have also been held in Bradenton, Sarasota, Tampa and Cocoa Beach, she said.

She claimed the parties are like any other party at a friend's house where people "pound drinks, talk, listen to loud music. The sex only takes place at the photo shoots," she said.

Persons who register for the parties and agree to participate in the photo shoots are admitted free to the events, otherwise there is a fee to attend, she said, although she would not reveal the cost.

Leger noted that her "club" was featured in February in the Weekly Planet tabloid newspaper and indicated she welcomed scrutiny. "It's all legal," she claimed.

Officer Mike Pilato indicated Chief Jay Romine will likely recommend changes to the rental ordinance to prevent operation of residential rentals as commercial enterprises and give officers cause to legally halt events of this type in the future.

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