Woman sues Chesterfield County over permit process

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Chesterfield County is being sued by a woman trying to obtain a business license to practice her spiritual beliefs. She says her constitutional rights are being violated.

The doors to her office are locked. Spiritual Counselor Sophie King's business was shutdown by the county for not having permits. Chesterfield says she's a fortune-teller, a business which requires permits with special approval. King says she isn't a fortune teller. She's filed a 25-page lawsuit in a fight to re-open her doors.

"This sort of thinking, it's very middle ages in terms of thinking about what I do," said King.

Sophie King says after 17 years of using her intuition to help others, Chesterfield County is limiting her ability to conduct business.

"Psychic Sophie Spiritual Community Counsel and all they read was the word psychic and the red flag went up," she said.

The red flags popped up when King applied for a business permit earlier this year. She was already seeing clients in the office building when she learned of the requirements.

"From early August or mid-August until now I've been completely disallowed from earning a living," King said.

Instead of just obtaining a business permit, King must be approved for a police permit - references, a background check and police chief approval are required. Pawnshops, car impound lots and adult stores must do the same.

"The fact is that I'm being looked at in a negative way before I've even gotten out the starting gate," King said.

She's suing Chesterfield County, claiming it violated her constitutional right to express her religion, and her right to equal protection.

"The whole reason why I'm doing this is hopefully to effect change," she said.

Because of the suit, Chesterfield County isn't commenting.

Melissa Correa: "How long are you willing to fight?" 
Sophie King: "As long as it takes."

King's attorneys have asked for a jury trial. King is seeking permission for the permits to re-open her business along with monetary relief.

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