2018 | Week of April 9 | #1250
This past Friday news broke that a man from Hartford was charged in federal court with sex trafficking, fraud and coercion. According to the criminal complaint, Christopher Childs worked out of the TNT club in Lebanon and the Hardware Store in Clyman.
What may not be readily obvious from the names of these businesses, is that both of them are strip clubs. The technical name for the TNT joint is the “TNT Gentleman’s Club,” but I refuse to dignify these horrible places by using the word gentleman in any kind of positive connection with them. They are sexually exploitative businesses that we’ve long known are blights on any community where they are located.
Lebanon and Clyman are tiny villages in Dodge County. Clyman is due north of Watertown about 9 miles and Lebanon is about 8 miles northeast of Watertown. I know these areas well; trust me, these are small rural communities. One other larger municipality in this area with one of these places of ill repute is Juneau, the Dodge county seat. At the main downtown intersection in Juneau is Silk Stockings. So far, this business hasn’t been implicated in the charges.
I’m emphasizing the locations of these businesses because I want you to understand they are not in thriving major municipalities. They are in quiet, on the surface unassuming, family-friendly communities—or at least they were before these businesses moved in. Ironically, the business in Lebanon used to be one of the best-known family restaurants in the area, the Home Plate Inn, which on Friday’s was always filled to overflowing for its famous fish fry. I was just by this place recently and cringed at what this building now houses and promotes.
In our organization, we’ve known for years these places have, at a minimum, been friendly to sex trafficking. We’ve suspected they shelter people involved in the trafficking and employ girls who become prostitutes and then become trafficked—especially the very young ones.
For years, we’ve encouraged citizens to check with their local municipalities to see what the current laws are regarding these businesses—and if there are no laws on the books prohibiting them, to work with officials to change that—before the businesses are suddenly there, leaving local government and citizens very few alternatives to get rid of them.
I think the Lebanon and Clyman businesses that have been exposed for sheltering this criminal and likely being involved in the actual trafficking are illustrative of what those who own and operate these places want—located in quiet areas but with quick access to major roadways—for all the reasons you can imagine. There’s another model, too, however—which is they locate in busy larger municipalities, such as Milwaukee and Green Bay, where there is also some anonymity but more importantly where major highways, like I-94 or Highway 41, are just blocks away.
While we have been concerned about these sexually-exploitative businesses and sex-trafficking and have talked more than once with state officials about this, to date we haven’t received extremely sympathetic responses. However, now that state senator Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican from Juneau and also the senate majority leader, has expressed his outrage about these criminal charges and the alleged illegal activity at these places, perhaps now we will see something done.
Senator Fitzgerald has asked the Department of Revenue about revoking their licenses to operate, checked with the Attorney General to see what can be done about shuttering them right now under current state law and has also said he’d be willing to propose legislation at the state level that would put them out of business. If the proposed legislation would close all such businesses in the state, then I would definitely be in favor of that approach. Regardless of where these places are located, they promote activity that itself is unwholesome, and they contribute to family breakdown and other social ills. Now we have proof they can be places where patently illegal activity happens, activity that can and too often does lead even to the death of those they traffick.
Much attention at the state level has been focused on the alarming reality that sex trafficking is all-too alive and well in our state, with Milwaukee even being identified as a hub. Local communities now know that the sexually exploitative businesses that have popped up in their area are not something that should be just tolerated or basically ignored. They need to be closed—now—for the sake of everyone in the community.
For Wisconsin Family Council, this is Julaine Appling reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”