The crowd of D.C. Superior Court officials and staffers had just been treated to a round of Christmas carols at the annual probation office Christmas party last Friday when events took a decidedly uncourtly turn:
A young woman took center stage and, as about 150 court personnel and guests watched, performed a professional striptease.
Yesterday, D.C. court officials, embarrassed by the performance which occurred in the middle of a hallway of justice, were busy investigating the incident to determine who was responsible.
It is "obviously not the policy of Superior Court to have strippers," said one senior court official, who asked not to be identified. While he said he was unsure whether the incident violated specific court regulations, he said he was certain that whoever organized the striptease exhibited "sheer stupidity. How dumb can they be?"
The striptease occurred on the second floor of Building B in the Superior Court complex at 409 E St. NW at about 3 p.m., according to Frederick B. Beane Jr., chief deputy clerk of the court's criminal division, who attended the party and witnessed the striptease. The building houses both the probation office, known as the Social Services Division, and the Pre-trial Services Agency as well as other court support services.
According to Beane, the woman stripped down to a bra and G-string over a period of about five to eight minutes "and then everyone began dancing" to records played by a disc jockey.
"She wasn't that good looking," Beane said.
Beane and others who attended the party at various times during the afternoon said they were not sure whether any judges were present during the striptease. Superior Court Judge Fred B. Ugast said he attended the party -- one of many under way in the court complex at the time -- but left before the incident. Judge David L. Norman, who confirmed he also attended the party briefly, said he arrived too late.
Anyway, he said, "since I'm a blind judge, it wouldn't help me to be there." Norman is, in fact, legally blind.
Alan M. Schuman, director of the Social Services Division, the department which held the party, declined to return a reporter's telephone calls and took annual leave yesterday afternoon. Beane said he was certain that Schuman did not know beforehand about the stripper.
Superior Court executive officer Larry P. Polansky said yesterday that he has asked for a written report from Schuman on the incident and will take disciplinary action if necessary. Polansky said he also attended the party but only for a short time -- before the striptease incident.