Teens at a Dallas youth dance club run by an Internet-ordained minister say it has made a positive impact on their lives and helped them stay off drugs, even though drug dealers do get in.
In an investigation by ABC affiliate WFAA, teens were interviewed outside a club formerly known as DarkSide that the city has sued to shut down.
The after-hours club is now called Fenix Project and it attracts around 500 teens nearly every weekend from Dallas, Wylie and other North Texas cities.
"I would consider a lot of people here my family," a teen named Brittany told WFAA. "I don't live with my parents. All the people I have met here are people who have helped me in the outside world. They all take care of me."
Owner Glenn Hudson says he helps youth and those who are disadvantaged, but Dallas officials suggest his ministry is more like a church of swing than of God.
The city attorney's office has slapped Hudson with a lawsuit for allegedly running two phony churches -- The Playground and the DarkSide. It says one was a club for swingers with condoms and porn stars, and the other a rave dance hall venue where hard-core drugs were sold to teens.
It alleges both operations are "positively pure fraud" and wants them shut down, according to Melissa Miles, assistant city attorney.
"They wrapped themselves in a religious organization," she said.
Hudson, who does not face criminal charges, only the civil lawsuit intended to halt his activities, told city officials that he was ordained with Universal Life Church and said his work is legitimate.
Owners say the club is an outreach ministry, trying to steer young people in the right direction.
This week, WFAA camera crews were not allowed inside the club, but they found teens dressed in everything from pajamas to barely-there bikinis. Some were even changing into revealing outfits in the parking lot and said the club has no dress code.
"We can't normally wear this in public," said one club-goer. "This place gives us the opportunity to wear whatever we want," said another.
The teens said they go to dance and hang out with friends and had lied to their parents about where they were going.
An investigation by Dallas Police undercover agents alleges that drugs are used at the club.
"There might be drugs because people bring them in," club patron Cali Williams told WFAA. "But if they get caught, their stuff gets taken."
"We caught a lot of people doing drugs," said former employee Alex Leal. "We caught a lot of people selling drugs."
WFAA camera crews witnessed one search outside the club where managers found a bag of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Police were called.
Attempts by ABCNews.com to find Hudson were unsuccessful, and even city officials said they had a difficult time locating the itinerant minister. His lawyer, Jonathan Bailey, did not return calls from ABCNews.com.
After getting complaints that Hudson was running unlicensed sex and drug clubs under the "guise of religion," the city hired the Dallas Police Department's Vice Unit to conduct undercover surveillance at both businesses.
At the Dark Side, detectives found a rave dance club. Youth as young as 14 and 15 were present and able to buy an assortment of illegal drugs: ketamine, morphine, marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms and pure ecstasy, known as "mollies," the lawsuit alleges.
Using Religion to Hide From Taxes
Hudson told city officials that he was running a "youth ministry," and was, therefore, "exempt" from zoning restrictions and licensing requirements, according to the lawsuit.
"We have outreach programs that are catering to the youth and disadvantaged people in the communities trying to provide an alternative to what currently exists, which are drug-infested," he told Rebecca Lopez of WFAA after a court hearing Tuesday.
As for the city's allegations that Hudson is trying to avoid tax laws by hiding his sex and drug operations behind churches, he said, "I don't have any knowledge of that."
WFAA also reported that Hudson has a criminal history that includes two arrests for marijuana possession and one for unlawfully carrying a weapon. The station reported that he pleaded no contest to all three charges and is serving probation.
Hudson, who owns both businesses, initially registered The Playground as a church when he applied for the required certificate of occupancy, city officials said. When they inquired about the DarkSide, he told them that it was also religious in nature.
City officials said they were surprised the DarkSide was a permanent rave site, as most parties move from location to location. They allege that the club held dance parties ending as late as 8 or 9 the next morning.
"Detectives consistently observed and documented numerous patrons openly ingesting and under the influence of illegal substances, dancing, engaging in various sex acts," alleges the lawsuit.
Dallas city ordinances require a license to stay open after 2 a.m. and with a special permit they can go until 4 a.m., but with no alcohol permitted.
DarkSide's manager, Thomas Eppelsheimer, also known as "Tommy Gunn," was arrested in July on charges that he supplied drugs to minor females and sexually assaulted one, according to the lawsuit.
Since then, he has been fired, according to WFAA.
Although the city attempted to close DarkSide permanently, a judge denied the order and has allowed the club to stay open for business.
A hearing is scheduled Aug. 3 in Dallas County's 95th District Court to determine if the city can shut down both clubs permanently.
In the meantime, Hudson still maintains that his constitutional rights are being violated.
"First Amendment, freedom of religion," he told WFAA.
He claimed he was being sued "just because they don't agree with what we believe in."