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Lawyer in love with a stripper gets club hauled before licensing board

Brandon Scruggs

Scruggs, responding to questions from Centerfolds's lawyer.

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.

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Comments

the president's lawyer. Ewww.

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A Jackson Browne/T-Pain mashup.

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Yikes

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for the rest of your days.

There are so many points in this story, going back years, where "Dude, what on earth were you thinking?!" needs to be asked.

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A reporter and a photographer with two cameras with big-ass lenses, so expect a much better photo than I took with my phone.

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The guy didn't sound like he meant any harm, but he crossed some lines, and even going to strip club at all is embarrassing. These Google hits will take some work to live down.

I think the employer looks much worse. Sounds like they knew dancers had heroin use going on, which makes the dancers captive employees.

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See my posts below about contractor strippers in the clean, civil, cosmopolitan Montreal, and also about legalizing drugs and prostitution.

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NOOOOOOO, never!
In my years in Boston I have known 3 strippers who worked at either Centerfolds or the slipper. They were all users. If not heroin snorting opiate painkillers at least.

Also, I have no idea how these places even make money. Providence is so close and their clubs are head and shoulders better. MA laws for strip clubs basically kill the entire point of going to one. Not to mention a shitty beer is about 10 bucks. It's a bigger scam than sports venues. At least the home team leaves you satisfied sometimes (unless you are going to see the Cleveland Browns I guess).

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And I raise you Montreal.

I feel bad for the young males of America.

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And raise you that you’re Trump level of creepiness.

With males like you openly commenting on the internet, I feel bad for the females of America.

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The dancers are independent contractors. Workplace harassment? They literally get up and leave.

Go look up "voluntary" and come back and see me.

EDIT: Also, go call a group of women "females" on any college campus in town and come back and see me.

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the lube and a shitload of old socks.

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Being an independent contractor means someone can just get up and leave? Because they can just magically get work anywhere and at any time? Yeah you're clearly a dude and probably rich. Otherwise you'd know how silly you sound.

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Rich is relative.

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Hate to critique, but you forgot the part about how you were once an independent contractor, working in the entertainment industry, at places that server alcohol, and that you were the entertainment that brought people in to drink alcohol.

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None of these people are indentured servants. They need to get on a stage to make money. The house has control over who gets on the stage. These people have to put up with a lot of crap from the house to, ahem, ply their trade. (None of this is new or a mystery, btw). I don't know why you think 1099s make their lives better. "They can just leave and not work!" er, they could always do that.

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"I have no idea how these places even make money"

"Not to mention a shitty beer is about 10 bucks"

and there ya go

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Thanks for covering the nitty griity so well. If this even makes either paper, it won't likely be as good a story as you have told here.

Edit: Well I guess it'll be in the Herald for sure.

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uncovered in the next twelve hours.

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Today he's "lovelorn," but it sounds like he might also be (borderline?) stalking this woman under the guise of 'gee, I want to help her because I just care so darned much'. I hope she has or acquires a temporary harassment prevention order, 'cause this has future domestic violence case written all over it.

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The epic wail of all Nice Guys with savior complexes everywhere:

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Every move you make.

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Yup, definitely sounds like it. Can't imagine why else a LAWYER would be dumb enough to admit he broke the law in court LOL

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As I recall, you can go drunkenly boating and have people lose limbs without any real consequence if you're a lawyer.

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If the person had nothing to do with people losing their limbs, then there would be no real consequences, isn't that how it works?

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The lawyer just plead guilty to providing alcohol to a minor as a 33 year old guy for a nighttime outing on his own boat.

So he's definitively a creep but not guilty of maiming someone directly.

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The intern was invited out on the water and asked the lawyer if he could bring a friend or two, to which the lawyer said fine (probably should have carded everyone and had an ID scanner on the boat huh? I know all of UHUB certainly would have).

But yeah, he bought the booze only to lure young people out on the boat and didn’t have a whole host of people of age with him also.

Selective reading is my favorite :)

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As an patent attorney, he has a pattern of scary behavior, as in not in keeping with the standards of professional conduct as a member of the Bar.

Bar as in the Bench, not the dance-able, glass-top kind.

Lawyers are supposed to be guided by the canons of ethics, not be a loose cannon. Can't see the BBO being overly thrilled by this behavior.

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Jeff Sessions. Somebody disbar him.

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The strip joint is adding food to its menu of exotic dancers.

Seems that when the current owners were buying the Naked I and turning it into what it is today, way back in 1996, they promised at a community meeting they would serve food along with their alcohol.

On an unscheduled inspection on Feb. 1, two BPD detectives discovered no food and no kitchen.

At a hearing today (a separate hearing from the one about the stripper), club attorney Robert Allen acknowledged the place stopped serving food around 2008 because there just was so little demand for it - in fact, at the end of the day, workers were just throwing food away.

But he also acknowledged that a deal's a deal and that because the then nascent Centerfolds agreed to a license condition that it serve food, Centerfolds will be starting up what he called a limited food menu.

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Beef rump, Boneless Chicken Breast, (Holding Back on One Because I Am Still Kind of Moral),....The possibilities are endless.

Also, to go with the club's name; Fold Out Napkins with every dish.

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that also has the name American Woodcock.

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Different bird, same difference.

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I never noticed that before. Cute. :-P

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"In retrospect, the prospect of paying a $20 cover to enjoy plates of steam-table Totino's pizza rolls, fish sticks and previously-frozen White Castle sliders might have been easier to stomach had it not been for the choking ambient fog of Angel perfume, Axe body spray and general desperation."

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With that Centerfolds cuisine, fancypants. What would the Slipper serve?

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and bags of Andy Capp's Hot Fries.

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part of you soul leaving your body as you read this. So demoralizing.

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Universal Hub is like 60 Minutes. You know that when the reporters come calling/write extensively about you, you're in trouble. <3

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But as much as I'd love to take credit for some crusading journalism, really, all I did was sit in a hearing room like I do most Tuesdays and listen (OK, I admit this time I got up a couple times to take photos - dagnabbit, if the Herald is going to send a real photographer with giant lenses, the least I can do is take some snaps with my phone).

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In the 7 or 8 or however many year I have been casually reading this wonderful blog, this is probably the most depressing article I have ever seen. I truly feel bad for this pathetic soul. I sincerely hope that he starts making better life decisions from this point on.

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I feel a lot worse for the stripper. (And all the women who work in those places.)

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-deleted after reading some other comments, had gotten mixed up-

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Why was this hearing held?

Was it because of the allegations of the patent attorney? Or was there an incident involving him that warranted police attention, like the guy in the other hearing today?

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He made a complaint against the clubs' licenses.

He was mad because this stripper refused to be rescued, so he alleged drugs and prostitution against the clubs.

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Those things should be legalized so that this guy can't use them as a cudgel against this business and their employee.

Same thing with local cops not reporting immigrants to ICE. Somebody in this here forum made a great point about bad hombres not being able to use being here illegally as a cudgel against seeking local police protection.

See how a glut of rules just makes everything worse? Live free.

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You could move ...

You aren't required to live in Massachusetts, no matter how onerous you find that.

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I could do a lot worse.

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You are doing a lot worse and the inanity of your posts prove that and your complete lack of a future.

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I am still your #1 fan though.

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What makes my Twitter account “batshit”?

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I only perused a little bit of it that one time I mentioned I am your #1 fan.

Screaming from the rooftops about everything wrong with the right, parroting every piece of liberal propaganda you can get your hands on, left is the greatest group ever and full of integrity, the right is evil and corrupt, etc.

The same old song and dance, similar to some of your rants here (although I didn't see the continuous mention of men's dicks on Twitter like there once was on here) so you have that going for you, which is nice.

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Jump into the cesspool that is Twitter and engage with me.

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But I’ll consider it.

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Hard to see this as anything but a tantrum. I wonder what her version of this is. Does she think she was in a relationship with this guy who obviously is stalking her now? Creepy little man.

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If the board gets complaints from the public about a particular problem at a particular licensed establishment, or if it wants to hold a hearing on a place with an established pattern of problems (remember that Cleveland Circle pizza place that kept getting caught selling beers to minors?) it will hold an "informational" hearing, usually with a title like the one for today's:

Informational hearing regarding alleged illegalities on premise and alleged violation of Boston Licensing Board rules and regulations in violation of MGL ch. 138, s. 64.

So it's different than hearings on citations issued by police for specific incidents (for example, the other one I covered today involving the bouncer attacked with a glass).

Usually, the complaints are cumulative (whether for the number of incidents, as with the pizza place or the number of complaints from the public, as with a hearing a few years ago about Mary Ann's in Cleveland Circle). Obviously, today, there was just one complaint, but it was both serious and long (even if perhaps short on direct evidence).

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they are valid. And yes, he is bitter and vindictive.

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Did this guy come forward voluntarily, as a witness?

His judgment lapses should be a consideration by the board, for assessing the credibility of his assertions, but did we just destroy someone's Google footprint for doing the right thing and speaking out?

Remind me not to be a witness in this town.

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This was not the result of an unscheduled inspection or an investigation - he took it upon himself to file a 20-page complaint, basically.

But let's think about that for a bit.

If he had gone to the police, he could have stayed anonymous - police even have an anonymous-tip line, and for something like this, since he had an in at Centerfolds, he could've gone to detectives in A-1 or even the licensing unit and offered himself as a "cooperating witness" for some undercover work (also, the licensing detectives have issued citations based on investigations stemming from 311 complaints, which are essentially anonymous).

But he didn't go to police - he went straight to the Boston Licensing Board, all of whose hearings are public, and filed an affidavit that promptly became a public record (the board holds "violation" hearings every Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Room 809 in City Hall, if you ever want to sit in, and you can look at any licensed establishment's entire record if you like).

Now, he's a patent attorney, not a criminal or licensing attorney, so maybe he didn't know this?

Well, maybe, except he spent six months in 2012 working as an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County, in a sort of loaner program (his law firm paid his salary while he worked for the DA). He even tried several cases. So he's got to have some understanding of how criminal investigations work - and the difference between going to the police and going to a licensing board.

Surely that experience, plus whatever he learned in law school, should have equipped him with the knowledge that you can't win what is a quasi-judicial hearing (you have to raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth before you can testify before the board) with a lot of hearsay, which is what he proffered - basically everything having to do with alleged heroin use inside Centerfolds.

And he's making serious, potentially business-ending allegations against Centerfolds, which, regardless of what you think of the sort of business they're in, is a lawful enterprise that is periodically inspected by police detectives (and probably agents of the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission) to ensure compliance with the law.

Licensing-board hearings are not courtroom proceedings, but as mentioned above, they are quasi-judicial, which means, among other things, they have to follow basic rules of evidence and due process - such as, in this case, giving Centerfolds the right to face and cross-examine people who have made what are essentially public charges against them.

So maybe a better question might be: If this guy was so convinced there were horrible things going on inside the club, why did he go straight to the licensing board and not police?

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to support three children she'd had by three absent, non-supportive fathers. She took a hard look at her life and her skills (no higher education), attacked the role seriously, scrimped and saved to buy the breast implants that greatly boosted her earnings -- I recall her glee at finally landing a spot performing in the "shower show" at her club, a lucrative step up -- and saved more over long years to buy a nice home and put her kids through college.

She would tell you that ugly, abusive behavior from management and patrons, as well as rampant substance abuse and side-earnings from prostitution by dancers, are commonplace. It's a nasty business run and surrounded by unsavory, often-criminal men exploiting mostly economically-disadvantaged, powerless female sex workers for profit or pleasure.

I have enormous respect for her managing to emerge happy, successful, and largely unscathed from decades in that sordid environment. But her journey is a vanishingly rare one. The story of a girlfriend of mine from long ago who later became a stripper strikes me as probably more typical. That job was the beginning of an awful downward spiral: a string of shitty, shady boyfriends, drug addiction and criminal convictions, her children eventually taken away from her by the state. No dumb bunny, a child of a modestly-privileged middle-class upbringing, but a wild streak led her into that business, and I believe it ruined her life.

As Adam points out, this attorney might have done many things that were far more effective were he truly serious about trying to make a difference there. What he did instead is equally baffling, jaw-droppingly stupid in professional terms, and nearly tragically pathetic.

I've logged long hours in strip clubs, once worked for a South Florida company that liked to close deals there. I've arranged a half-dozen bachelor parties centered on visits to them; my own included a few, though the Wonderland episode where every one of us somehow won money (I left plus-$500, a stupid miracle) is the stop that everyone remembers.

I can't enjoy strip clubs anymore: I know on good authority how the dancers feel about the customers. If only this sorry schmuck of a lawyer had any idea.

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i miss both the grandstand and the lamented dining room in the clubhouse

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but he also put his name on the complaint, swearing under oath that a whole lot of (presumably) falsifiable things are true. Maybe no one's going to bring him up on perjury charges when they find that he's making it all up to spite his ex, but this sounds like the kind of thing a libel attorney for Centerfolds would be salivating over.

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Scruggs messed up his own Google footprint by making his infatuation and grievances a matter of public record.

He then went on the public record at a public hearing.

You would have a very hard time arguing that Scruggs did not understand the public implications of his actions, either.

Adam is merely reporting what he very publically did - not outing an anonymous witness.

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...dealing with the legal grind.

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I believe most of his allegations. His motivations are obviously wack, but I think he's telling the truth. There's something to be said for allowing oneself to be utterly humiliated.

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unconscionable idiot, regardless of how altruistic his motives are. He should know better than to expect that pure hearsay will stand up in a legal proceeding, which apparently is all he has.

As I noted above with the help of a veteran stripper's perspective, some of the things he alleges are credible, but that don't mean shit in a legal setting: you need to bring evidence. I'm no lawyer, and even I know that.

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The lawyer's profile has been removed from his firm's website and now this article is the first result when you Google his name.

This site is such a petty forum for frustrated bullies. Editor, are you proud of yourself for publishing this tripe? (As an aside, the writing is a muddled mess.)

Were there no MBTA press releases about mentally ill Orange Line riders for you to joke about?

If you even publish this comment, I'm sure you'll come back with something about the hearing being a public forum, etc. But that doesn't mean that you have to ruin somebody's career over it.

If there's any cosmic justice, then what goes around will come around.

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Read this comment, by the reporter himself.

The guy could have just shrugged the whole episode off. Or he could have gone to law enforcement, which would have given him a lot of anonymity. Instead he chose the most public way to air his concerns. If you think that Adam's reporting of this will be bad, just wait until the Herald runs whatever story they were there to cover. Adam shows up at these hearings almost as a hobby. He would have been satisfied at just hearing about a bloody bouncer (though as disturbed at the story as the rest of us were.) The Herald reporters were most likely there for this story, since these hearings are only reported in one place.

So yeah, there is one person to blame for this being so public, and it ain't Gaffin.

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read the article, and then ask yourself: is there any value at all to this story, other than the smearing of this person's reputation?

Because I sure couldn't find it. I read it twice and couldn't even figure out the reason for the hearing (although Adam tried to clarify things later in a comment).

There's a reason this story didn't make the Herald - because aside from the opportunity to level a cheap shot against this clearly troubled individual, there isn't any story.

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If you don't want the news to report that you dropped trou in the middle of City Hall Plaza, don't drop trou in the middle of City Hall Plaza.

Really is that simple honey. Adam is reporting the proceedings of a PUBLIC hearing of a PUBLIC licensing board. The man filed a PUBLIC complaint on a PUBLIC business.

I find your stupidity in going after Adam for reporting on PUBLIC matters being carried out by the government to be breathtaking.

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It's a story about a business being accused of some serious charges in a formal setting. That's the definition of news.

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Full of amazing stories from a side of Boston I barely enter.

In fact, I should thank Mr. Scruggs for making his complaint to the Boston Licensing Board, getting a hearing scheduled, then showing up and testifying about how he dated a stripper during his over decade of going to Centerfolds and the various untoward things that happen behind the scenes.

Here's what you don't quite understand. He is not accused of anything. He is accusing others of acts. He went to a public hearing and laid out all of the things Adam wrote up on his own. I don't have a JD. I never worked for a District Attorney's Office. I might like to spout off about the law, but I have never attended law school. This guy had to know the consequences for attending this hearing, a hearing he basically called for, but somehow here we are.
And you see that I was the one who asked for clarification as to why this guy was there spouting off about Centerfolds, mainly because it makes no sense that he did things the way he did. He made his reputation on his own.

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If you stand in the public square and announce that you're an idiot, don't be surprised when people believe you.

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Only a bad lawyer would begin to think that he could file a public complaint against the license of a business with serious allegations that would warrant a public hearing and not have that complaint be reported in a public manner that might have a public impact on his public work.

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