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The Hardware Store back open in Clyman following alleged prostitution bust

September 23, 2018

The Hardware Store is back in business after an alleged prostitution bust.

The gentleman’s club, at 942 Main St. in Clyman, was open Friday afternoon after being shut down the night before.

According to a press release from the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy conducted a bar check at the club around 5 p.m. on Thursday and found a woman performing a sex act on a man in a private lap dance room, with an investigation finding that there was an agreement that the sex act would occur in exchange for money.

Sheriff Dale Schmidt confirmed Friday that he was the one who performed the check.

The 25-year-old woman from Milwaukee and the 64-year-old man from Columbus were booked into jail, with charges referred to the district attorney’s office for prostitution and patronizing prostitutes, respectively, for prosecution. No one has been charged with a crime as of Friday afternoon and an investigation is ongoing.

In The Hardware Store early Friday afternoon, there were customers gathered around the bar shortly after opening, though no dancers. No one opted to speak on the record.

The village of Clyman implemented a demerit point system, similar to the one in Beaver Dam, that allows for a process by which a business can lose its liquor license. Under the system, the village can assign demerit points against a business if it determines there were violations, including underage drinking or fighting.

Clyman and other governments in the area have recently put such systems in place in response to concern over criminal activity in their communities. Should the village decide to move forward with disciplinary action against The Hardware Store, it will trigger a public hearing process with testimony and evidence before a decision.

Fewer than 200 points in a 12-month period is seen as a recommendation to the Village Board for a warning; 200-249 points is seen as a recommendation for a license suspension and 250 or more points is seen as a recommendation to revoke the liquor license.

The entire demerit system is a guide and the Village Board does not have to take any specific action. The board could decide to do nothing in the end. It remains to be seen whether The Hardware Store will receive demerit points.

Mike Siegel, the owner of The Hardware Store, resigned as president of the Clyman board earlier this year.

The sheriff’s office will work with the village to provide information for the board.

Strip clubs in Dodge County have come under heavy pressure after the indictment of Christopher Childs, 45, of Hartford, on federal charges of human trafficking. Childs is accused of torturing women and forcing them to engage in prostitution while keeping the money they earned for their work.

Prosecutors allege that he operated out of the TNT Club, in the town of Lebanon, and The Hardware Store.

Afterward, local politicians and religious figures began organizing to shut down the clubs. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, has led those in opposition to the establishments, portraying them as magnets for crime and connecting them with human trafficking.

Officials held several public meetings, including one at a church in Clyman. Many homes in Clyman have lawn signs that say “Stop Human Trafficking” just down the road from The Hardware Store.

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