MeeMees building given to recovery groups

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Mike DuPre'
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
— The building that once housed Janesville's only strip club—and apparently pay-for-sex escapades—could become a meeting place for people trying to stay sober.

As part of a plea agreement, Jim Halbach—who with his wife, Rebecca, owned Screamin' MeeMees, 402 W. Delavan Drive—donated the building to 12 & 12 Drop In Center, a charitable organization that conducts Alcoholic Anonymous meetings.

Whether the group will conduct AA meetings there is unknown.

Neither of the Halbachs' two attorneys knew what purpose 12 & 12 had in mind for the building, and The Janesville Gazette was unable to contact a 12 & 12 representative Tuesday afternoon.

Halbach pleaded no contest Tuesday to a single count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. He was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $358 in court costs.

The single misdemeanor charge could have been up to 12 felony charges of keeping a place of prostitution and a single misdemeanor charge of soliciting prostitution. But Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary negotiated the plea agreement because, he said, he wanted to ensure that no strip club opens or re-opens at 402 W. Delavan Drive.

The deal's elements included relinquishing the now-defunct strip club's adult entertainment license, which was held by Rebecca Halbach. She gave up the license.

The property deed was restricted so that no one else may apply for the adult entertainment license.

The building is not in an area zoned for such a license. But because the city council enacted the adult entertainment ordinance after Screamin' MeeMees opened, the business was grandfathered in.

The grandfather exemption also would allow another adult entertainment license at the address for 12 months after the original license was relinquished. The deed restriction closed that window.

The plea agreement also included donating the building to a non-profit organization.

One of the Halbachs' lawyers—Stephen Werner—confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the donation was complete.

The case against Halbach started in summer 2007 when Janesville police got a tip that dancers at Screamin' MeeMees were selling sex for money.

Twenty-two cases were started in all.

Most involved sexual contact—rubbing or touching breasts and/or genitalia—but three involved soliciting money for some form of sexual intercourse.

Two Milwaukee women pleaded guilty to the latter charge; the third case is pending against a Milwaukee woman.

Thirteen other women were charged with soliciting prostitution by sexual contact. Five pleaded no contest to prostitution or disorderly conduct charges. Eight cases are pending.

Four men were charged with misdemeanor soliciting prostitution. Three pleaded no contest; the fourth case is pending.

Janesville police anticipated that felony charges of keeping a place of prostitution would be filed against Halbach and Randy Peterson, the manager of Screamin' MeeMees.

No charges were filed against Peterson.

Last updated: 10:48 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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