(Madison) Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has released a statement after reports surfaced of alleged human trafficking at two Dodge County strip clubs. Fitzgerald says he is “horrified” at the accounts of serial abuse at the establishments and is asking for the sheriff and district attorney to immediately investigate anyone on premises.
Christopher Childs of Hartford is charged in federal court with Sex Trafficking Involving Force, Fraud and Coercion. Prosecutors have identified four specific victims that were said to be forced to dance at strip clubs for no pay and perform sexual acts for money that went entirely to Childs. The complaint states that the prostitution occurred inside the TNT Gentlemen’s Club in Lebanon and the Hardware Store in Clyman and suggests that management and even bartenders not only turned a blind eye but may have also been complicit in their dealings with the suspect.
Fitzgerald says an appropriate first step would be to review and possibly revoke the licenses of the clubs named in the complaint. The Juneau Republican says he has spoken to the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office to see what tools are available to the state to shut down the establishments for good. He says the trafficking crisis continues to worsen and Dodge County is just the latest area where this illegal activity has been unearthed. Fitzgerald says Dodge County residents have tolerated these types of establishments for far too long and state and local officials must act forcefully to give the victims and the community the protection they deserve.
In response, Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt issued a statement thanking the Senator for his support and noting that his office has already launched an investigation, enlisting the FBI early in the process. Schmidt says the FBI is the lead agency due to the resources they have available to them. He says his department has remained and continues to be an active partner in this investigation with the FBI. Schmidt noted that it is an investigation that is still active and as a result he says he cannot comment further at this time. The sheriff says that he is in complete agreement with Senator Fitzgerald and says he welcomes legislation or any other assistance that the state can provide as authorities work to take on this criminal activity head on.
District Attorney Kurt Klomberg, meanwhile, says he appreciates Senator Fitzgerald’s support in combating human trafficking in Dodge County. He says his office has been kept apprised of the ongoing investigation by the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office, and the impending federal action. Klomberg says he “stands ready to assist the state legislature in strengthening the laws that address human trafficking.