In Kailee Higgins' recently concluded civil case against Capitol Specialty Insurance Corp., the insurer for Centerfolds owner P.J.D. Entertainment of Worcester Inc., the relevant questions were whether the gentleman's club had served alcohol to the underage exotic dancer; whether it allowed her to drive intoxicated after finishing her shift on Nov. 28, 2010; and whether it properly investigated its liability for the debilitating injuries Ms. Higgins suffered in a motor vehicle collision shortly after leaving the club early that morning.

The $5.4 million awarded to Ms. Higgins in the case suggests that those questions were answered affirmatively. Yet, there were questions of ethics and morality that were not asked or were not allowed because they were considered irrelevant to the case.

One of those questions, raised by Ms. Higgins' attorney, Peter Palmer, was directed to Police Officer David Rutherford, who on the night of the collision was working a paid detail, an assignment he had held for 16 years at the club.

“Do you have daughters?” Mr. Palmer asked Officer Rutherford.

“No,” the officer replied.

“You wouldn’t allow them to work in that club, would you?"

The defense objected to this question and the judge sustained the objection.

Yes, the question was irrelevant to the core of the case, but it wasn’t out of place in an era in which societal norms relative to how we treat women are being heavily scrutinized.

The findings of fact in the case detail how a 20-year-old woman made a living working as a nonsalaried exotic dancer - paying a fee to dance and relying on tips as her income, tips from which “in order to stay on (her employer’s) good side” she had to “tip the DJ, bouncers and waitstaff at the end of her shift.”

According to the case file, Ms. Higgins “was advised upon hiring, and it was her experience at other clubs where she worked, that she was to pressure customers to buy drinks. This resulted in customers buying her drinks that required her to drink alcohol, even though she was underage.

“During her time at P.J.D. she was never refused a drink, or asked for proof of age by the waitstaff or bartenders, and Ms. Higgins regularly drank to excess while performing at P.J.D. P.J.D. also maintained a 'Champagne Room' which enabled the dancers to give private dances to a customer.

“The dancer would make significantly more money in tips in the Champagne Room than dancing on the stage. ‘Shot Girls’ were present on the floor in order to enhance the opportunities for customers to purchase alcohol for themselves and the dancers. It was common, and expected, for P.J.D. to serve alcohol to the dancers purchased by customers, which occurred regularly and without any restrictions by management.

“As one of the ‘perks’ of the job, the dancers were given a free shift drink before beginning their shift. Ms. Higgins was in the habit of ordering Patron Tequila as her shift drink, and was often observed by her friend Deanna Macleod, who was also a dancer, drinking to excess while at work.”

Again, according to the statement of facts, “Before starting her shift she (Ms. Higgins) had three shots of Patron Tequila. During her shift she consumed at least 12 more shots of tequila in the club and the Champagne Room and she became heavily intoxicated"

Duane Prince, a bouncer in charge of the safety of the dancers, escorted Ms. Higgins to her car at the end of her shift, and “had to take her keys from her in order to open the car door and physically sit her into the driver’s seat. He then gave the keys back to her and watched as she started her car. Before Ms. Higgins drove away she texted a friend 'he he maaad drunk lol.' ”

And none of this, apparently, was observed by Officer Rutherford, who said that while he saw Ms. Higgins at the end of her shift and spoke to her in passing, she didn't appear to be under the influence.

And when asked how often in 2010 he saw "dancers intoxicated to the point of impairment," he gave a discourse on “a different level of impairment.”

“… In my opinion, a dancer … if they’re familiar with their job and what they’re in there to do, which is to make money … will try not to overdrink or imbibe to the excess of, you know, stupor, tripping and failing, or anything like that.

“So as a rule … from what I observe, the dancers that are there to make money have money on their mind. It’s … the eye on the prize, and what they do is to avoid overdrinking so they can have intelligent conversations with their ... clients.”

Would fatherhood have made Officer Rutherford more mindful of the perils faced by a 20-year-old exotic dancer? The answer, sadly, is perhaps not. Men have a way of compartmentalizing women.

So, while the $5.4 million awarded in this case suggests someone acted illegally, if not immorally, the question of whether it’s proper for a Worcester police officer to work a detail at which underage dancers are plied with drinks, but at which, as he puts it, “My job is not to police the workers,” was never raised.

The question, too, of why Thomas B. Duffy II, the off-duty Worcester police officer whose vehicle collided with Ms. Higgins’ car, "got a total pass” from the Worcester Police Department, according to Capitol Attorney Jeffrey Stern, was also not raised. Officer Duffy was never given a sobriety test or issued a speeding ticket although he was going 52 mph in a 30 mph zone.

Such questions are not only considered objectionable but also downright subversive of public order in Worcester.