Church Packed For Forum On Human Trafficking

(Clyman) Concerned citizens packed a church in Clyman Thursday to hear government officials, law enforcement and volunteer organizations discuss human trafficking issues in Dodge County. Republican State Senator Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau called for the forum because he was “horrified” by allegations of prostitution at strip clubs in the towns of Clyman and Lebanon.

The details came to light following a federal indictment against a Hartford man accused of forcing women to dance at the strip clubs for no pay and perform sexual acts for money that he kept. One of the tools public officials have supported to help municipalities revoke liquor license of establishments that fail to follow the law is a demerit point ordinance.

Fitzgerald says moving forward the ordinance will be more widely used. Fitzgerald says one of the discussions going on at the state-level is on how to best shift the burden off of local municipalities who are facing challenges from strip clubs and their attorneys.

Also in attendance was Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt who says he started having officers train in human trafficking back in 2015 in an effort to better police this issue. He says the community needs to play an important role by providing detailed information when they see something suspicious. Schmidt says his office does not have the resources available to thoroughly investigate each strip club.

Representatives from Beaver Dam’s 5 Stones was on hand to provide insight into the human trafficking trade. The non-profit group works to educate and combat sex crimes on a local level. Founder of the Beaver Dam Chapter Traci Scheffler says strips clubs serve as a gateway for human trafficking. She says traffickers lure youth by saying they need money for rent or bills and will then ask them to dance at strip clubs. Scheffler says that is step one and that it does not take much to go from dancing to having or being forced to have sex for money.

The Clyman village board will be discussing the implementation of a demerit point ordinance during their meeting on Monday. A second public hearing on human trafficking is scheduled for June 4 at the at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church at 714 Church Street in the Village of Clyman starting at 6pm.