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Legal grind ends for woman accused of dirty dance

By The Associated Press

MARSHALL, N.C. — Nobody puts Rebecca Willis in a corner. A small mountain town has agreed to pay $275,000 for banning her from a community hangout after residents complained about her dirty dancing.

Willis, then 56, was told to stay away from the Marshall Depot community center eight years ago.

According to court documents, she was accused of gyrating and simulating sexual intercourse with her partner while wearing a skirt so short it exposed her underwear. Willis described her dance style as "exuberant and flamboyant" but not obscene.

She's still not allowed to return to the refurbished train station where she once danced and socialized, but she said that's OK with her.

Her attorney, Jon Sasser, said the town strongly opposes lifting the ban.

"They said they'd burn the place down before they let her come back, so we decided to see if they'd put a monetary price on the right," he said. The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation announced the settlement yesterday.

Larry Leake, an attorney for the town, said Marshall's insurance company advocated the settlement. The town believes it did nothing wrong and would have prevailed in a trial, he said.

Willis said in a statement that the settlement sent a message that the town should allow for diversity and free expression.

"I am very happy with this settlement and relieved that the lawsuit is finally over," she said.

Woman banned for 'dirty dancing' can sue
Reversing lower court dismissal, 4th Circuit panel finds evidence that N.C. town treated Rebecca Willis differently from other patrons. 05.05.08

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