The Justice Department filed a civil suit yesterday against the owners of a Fauquier County dance club, contending that they violated the Civil Rights Act by barring blacks and their white companions from the facility.
"We received a complaint that, as a result of attempting to obtain entrance to the club, some persons were prohibited and discouraged from entering," said Thomas K. Berger, first assistant U.S. attorney in Alexandria.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, is the second discrimination suit brought against Hugo Stribling, who with his wife Edith owns and operates Hugo's Dance Club on Rte. 17 in Bealeton, southeast of Warrenton. Four years ago, Justice sued Stribling alleging that he was turning blacks away from an adjacent skating rink that he owns. That suit was settled before a court decision was reached when Stribling agreed to admit people of all races to the rink, Berger said.
Hugo Stribling, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, said in 1978 before the first suit was filed that he had the right to exclude whomever he pleased from his skating rink and dance hall because he believed them to be private clubs.
Justice officials challenged that reasoning in yesterday's lawsuit, contending in their complaint that the dance club cannot be considered a private club because it routinely admits groups of whites without regard to club membership.
The suit, which follows six months of investigation by the FBI, asks the court to prohibit the Striblings from excluding blacks, or whites who are accompanied by blacks, and to require that signs be posted stating that the club is open to all persons without regard to race.