SANFORD — Town officials have ordered a catering company to stop hosting sex parties at a former Knights of Columbus hall, where swingers’ club patrons have openly engaged in various sexual acts.

Jim and Susan Colley of Springvale, operators of Great Beginnings Catering at Mousam View Place, have been hosting monthly swingers’ club parties at 47 High St., town officials claim in a letter to the Colleys dated Oct. 21.

Town officials took action after two undercover police officers attended a Halloween party at the banquet hall Oct. 15 and saw about 40 people engaging in all forms of sexual activity, Police Chief Tom Connolly said Tuesday.

“The officers were appalled at the number and variety of sexual acts being performed – and one of the officers has worked vice crimes – right out in the open where everybody was sitting,” Connolly said.

The letter to the Colleys outlines several ways that the sex parties violate town and state licensing regulations. It also orders them to stop promoting the 500-seat banquet hall as a venue for sex parties and admitting patrons “for purposes of engaging in or observing nudity or sexual conduct.”

The building is owned by Northborough Realty Holdings of Chelmsford, Mass., said Town Clerk Sue Cote. The Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic service organization and social club, sold the building several years ago.

Great Beginnings Catering is a tenant in the building, which can be rented for weddings and other events. Gov. Paul LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen spoke at events there in the spring. It’s near the town center, a few blocks from the Town Hall and the public library.

The Colleys don’t have a permit to operate an adult business in town, said Code Enforcement Officer Shirley Sheesley. Moreover, the town’s zoning doesn’t list adult businesses as permitted, so the ordinance would have to be changed before the Colleys could seek a permit for an adult business, Sheesley said.

The sex parties also violated the Colleys’ food, liquor, dancing and entertainment licenses from the town, which prohibit indecent or obscene performances on the premises, including sexual acts and nudity. The sex parties also violated similar prohibitions in state liquor statutes.

The Colleys didn’t return calls for comment Tuesday.

The sex parties, publicized on a swingers’ group website, apparently started in July and were scheduled to run through December. Couples and single men paid $40 admission at the door; single women got in free.

Many of the vehicles in the parking lot Oct. 15 had Massachusetts license plates, Connolly said.

“They set up cabanas and air mattresses and had a DJ and finger foods,” the police chief said. “Some of the cabanas were for private parties, some allowed people to join in, and one had a plastic barrier so people could stand outside and watch. But it was happening everywhere. One woman was performing a sexual act on a man about 2 feet from the food table.”

Connolly said no one has been charged with a crime because the undercover police officers – a man and a woman who live in other communities – saw no criminal acts, such as prostitution, illegal drug use or participants younger than 18.

“After the first couple of events, we started getting reports of hanky-panky going on there,” Connolly said. “My objective from the beginning was to see if any criminal laws were being broken. People might not like what they’re doing, but if it’s a protected right under the First Amendment, you have to be very careful before you trample on someone’s rights.”

The Colleys hold permits to sell food, hold dances and offer other types of legal entertainment, Cote said. Their liquor license expired Oct. 5, so the party Oct. 15 was a bring-your-own event, according to the website. The other licenses will expire Dec. 31.

On Oct. 12, Jim Colley applied to renew the licenses for 47 High St. for a new company, Fresh Start Catering, Cote said. The Town Council is scheduled to review the applications Nov. 1.

The Sanford swingers’ website is linked to a national swingers’ website, which shows additional swingers’ clubs in Ogunquit and Portland.

The Sanford swingers’ group planned to hold a Fetish Night party Nov. 19, a Reindeer Games party Dec. 17 and a Black & White New Year’s Eve party Dec. 31, according to the group’s website.

Participants in the Dec. 17 event were encouraged to bring $10 holiday gifts to swap with other patrons. They also could get $5 off the admission fee if they brought a gift for a home-bound senior citizen.

Town officials expect all scheduled sex parties at Mousam View Place to be called off, regardless of gift-giving plans.

“We’re hoping the owners of the building will ask the tenant to leave,” Connolly said. “Because it’s obviously not a healthy activity and it’s not what the people of Sanford want in their town.”

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com