(Clyman) The owner of the strip club in Clyman has resigned as village president. Mike Siegel was elected to the position last year and is stepping down at a time when federal prosecutors have indicted a Hartford man for sex-trafficking at one of Siegel’s clubs. Christopher Childs allegedly forced four women to dance and prostitute themselves at the Hardware Store in Clyman and TNT Gentlemen’s Club in Lebanon with the 45-year-old keeping all of their money and violently beating them if they failed to comply. Village Trustee Beth Baehmann read from Siegel’s April 13th resignation letter* at Monday night’s regular monthly board meeting:
“First of all, I would like to apologize for any and all embarrassment that the recent events involving this manipulating predator’s infiltration to my business has caused everyone. Myself, my staff at no time knowingly ever cooperated with this predator’s disgusting agenda. In hindsight, after reading the criminal complaint, I see how he manipulated people and how mistakes were made. We were not prepared for someone like this, ignorance is no excuse.
When this came to light, I reached out to Detective Vicki Brugger of the Dodge County Detective Bureau (sic) for assistance and education. We at the Hardware Store feel sick and horrible for these poor women, the victims of this predator. We wish one of these poor women would have reached out to one of us for help, we would have done everything in our power to help. Detective Brugger reached out to [a federal special agent] to come and speak to the girls, myself and my staff. [The] special agent explained to us all and gave us education on how not to become victims again and how the girls and anyone can get help. He explained about all of the different resources out there available to victims and how victims can be safe and not be afraid to report these things. We at the Hardware Store are committed to doing a better job and leading the fight in our industry to ensure these pieces of garbage do not come back into our community again.
Finally, I would like to say how sorry I am. I love this community and it has been an honor and a privilege to serve this community. I would like to thank all the residents for their support over the last eleven years. My intentions were always only to help. As of 9am, this day, the 13th of April, I am resigning as village president as my focus needs to be only on ensuring something like this never happens again and that we are not part of the problem but part of the solution.
With deepest regards, Michael Siegel.”
The board tabled action until next month on the internal election of a village president and an appointment to the now-vacant board seat.
The village hall was packed with around 70 people who had come to voice their concerns. One person spoke kindly of Seigel as a business owner and neighbor. The rest of the audience urged the village board to take action against the strip club. Residents asked that the board follow the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader and fellow Clyman resident Scott Fitzgerald and revoke the club’s liquor license… or its conditional use permit. Others asked that the village police force be reformed.
Many in attendance were with local churches, including Fr. Mike Erwin of St. John the Baptist Church in Clyman. He says the strip club has been a concern for a while and the ultimate goal of the citizens gathered is to get Dodge County free of such establishments. The churches have taken it upon themselves to form a non-denomination committee tasked with addressing the issue. Erwin says “the business can really bring down the entire village.”
Sheriff Dale Schmidt encouraged the village to enact a demerit point ordinance, which would allow the municipality to revoke the liquor license of establishments that fail to follow the law. “There is a lot of criminal activity that goes on in there including drug activity and including the trafficking that’s going on,” Schmidt says, “and while Mr. Seigel may say he was not aware of the physically violent nature of what was going on, I’d be very hard-pressed if he didn’t understand that there was other criminal activity going on inside that facility…and you have the power to implement a demerit point system against Class A liquor license holders.”
County Board Supervisor Allen Behl of Watertown echoed the sheriff’s sediments on the implementation of a demerit point ordinance noting that it is now in place in Lebanon. In response to the comments from residents and county officials, Village Trustee Marty Pint, who was elected to run Monday night’s meeting, said that they are gathering information and everything will be considered.
*The resignation letter was transcribed from its reading at Monday evening’s board meeting. Village officials declined to provide a media copy, pending consultation with legal counsel and/or the submission of an open records request
Editor’s Note: Name could not be deciphered from the recording