UPDATE: Board determined Centerfolds did nothing wrong.
Brandon Scruggs, a Lexington patent attorney, was not ashamed to admit today he was in love with a stripper at Centerfolds on Lagrange Street.
But now the Boston Licensing Board, where Scruggs made his public admission this morning, has to decide whether his allegations of illegal dancer touching and heroin use at one of Boston's two remaining strip clubs are valid or whether they're the statements of a bitter, lovelorn man now barred from strip joints across the country.
In a 20-page affidavit, Scruggs alleged that in his nine years as a Centerfolds regular, he repeatedly fondled dancers, in violation of Boston's stripper regulations - among the strictest in the country - in exchange for paying up to $1,500 an hour for service in the Centerfolds Champagne Room. "Legs, butts, breasts," he touched them all, he told the board today.
He said that dancers were alerted when BPD licensing detectives entered the premises and that all contact immediately stopped, until after the detectives left.
And then there was the heroin use by dancers, Scruggs said. Scruggs said he learned about that last year when he began dating one of the dancers, who turned out to have "a very severe heroin addiction." He said both she and other club dancers would shoot up in one of the club's restrooms and that he found it "impossible for [club managers] not to have known she was shooting up in the bathroom," especially after another dancer allegedly overdosed in the club last fall.
Scruggs said he and the dancer dated for about nine months and that they broke up twice before they broke up, apparently for good, a third time. He said he still maintains contact with the woman's father, in an attempt, he said, to try to get her into treatment, an effort he said has failed because she "runs away" whenever he brings the topic up.
Not so fast, club attorney Robert Allen countered. Holding up Scruggs's affidavit, he said it consisted of "triple layers of hearsay" that did not provide a single instance of Scruggs actually witnessing heroin use in the club but only "a dancer told another dancer who told me this might've happened."
Allen said that the reason the dancer, who still works at Centerfolds, did not attend the hearing was because she is now "petrified" of Scruggs. Scruggs, he charged, was a man upset he was no longer strip-club royalty, with a girlfriend, even. "Now he's back to being a patent lawyer."
Under questioning by Allen, Scruggs acknowledged running background checks on the woman's parents, other relatives and friends and making visits to at least four district courts to obtain any possible court records she might have. But he denied driving by the woman's mother's home repeatedly - or of contacting her uncle, although he did admit to contacting her aunts.
Scruggs said he did it all out of love: The woman had lied to him about her addiction and he wanted to make sure she wasn't lying about other facets of her life. He admitted he had tried to get into Centerfolds last night - he was not allowed in - but said it was only because he and the woman's father were concerned about the woman's well being after, he said, her mother kicked her out of her South Shore home.
Centerfolds General Manager Steve Hurd denied Scruggs's allegations about customer/stripper touching. Hurd, who has been with Centerfolds since it opened as a replacement for the Naked I around 2000, said the club has numerous, prominent signs warning patrons not to touch the dancers - in part because the club gets a lot of customers from states that do allow contact.
"An informed guest is our best guest," he said, and he would never allow contact because he realizes it could mean problems for his license and livelihood. He said he often scans even the Champagne Room via surveillance camera to ensure no hanky-panky goes on - and if a worker there lets him know about a potential problem guest, he drops what he's doing to keep a cam eye on him.
He said he's added Scruggs's name to a list, circulated among strip clubs across the country, as somebody who is a problem guest.
Board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini also expressed skepticism about Scruggs's affidavit and testimony.
"You sound like a bitter boyfriend that got dumped," she told him at one point. "Why didn't you just walk away?" she asked at another. "Yeah, I don't know," Scruggs said. "I was madly in love with this girl."
"Is this young lady in any danger?" Pulgini asked. "Not from me," he replied.
Under questioning from Allen, Scruggs acknowledged sending Hurd a letter in which he hoped the woman would "suffer" for what she had done to him, but said that was only as a preface to explain how he hoped she would finally get the help she needs.
The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take about Scruggs's allegations.