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Visions Nightclub inside

The City Attorney's Office has filed a complaint seeking the revocation of liquor and entertainment licenses at Vision's Nightclub, a strip club at 3554 E. Washington Ave. A special subcommittee limited the scope of that complaint Tuesday. 

A Madison subcommittee decided Tuesday to throw out 41 pages of a 56-page complaint that is seeking to revoke the liquor and entertainment licenses of Visions Nightclub, the city’s only strip club.

The complaint alleges that Visions, which has operated on the East Side at 3554 E. Washington Ave. for 34 years, has violated city ordinances by maintaining a “disorderly or riotous, indecent, or improper house,” among other violations.

The original complaint had outlined 58 incidents including over-consumption, disturbances and fights, many in its parking lot, between January 2012 and June 2019. The most serious is a shooting, stabbing and fight inside the establishment, which left five people injured, on Dec. 9, 2018.

At an evidentiary hearing Tuesday, a special subcommittee of the Alcohol License Review Committee decided to prohibit any allegations against Visions that are older than two years from when the complaint was filed Aug. 16. That means 47 incidents that were in the original complaint are not allowed to be considered in the revocation decision.

The decision was made because subcommittee members decided to partially accept a motion from Visions’ attorney Jeff Scott Olson to limit the scope of the investigation to the last year.

Olson said it is challenging to defend against old allegations because it is hard to find witnesses.

“Every year back you go, those incidents become more and more impossible for the party to defend those allegations, to investigate,” Olson said.

Subcommittee members did not go into more detail about why they decided to accept Olson’s motion.

Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Zilavy, who brought the complaint forward, said she was “not anticipating” the committee’s decision to dismiss the majority of her allegations.

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Zilavy said she had looked at incidents dating back to 2012 because there was “a pattern of Visions not calling police” or mismanaging the situation.

At Tuesday’s meeting, only three of the incidents were detailed: the December shooting, a fight over a video game and an opiate overdose.

Madison police Officers Dan Frie and Kyle Toberman testified that they did not know who had placed the calls to police in those incidents. Toberman said a bartender may have called about the overdose.

Questioned by Olson, Frie and Toberman said they did not find any wrongdoing by staff during the incidents.

One of Zilavy’s principal witnesses, a special agent with the state’s Department of Revenue, could not attend the hearing because he had a recent death in the family.

The hearing will continue Oct. 29.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the affiliation of Zilavy's witness who could not attend the hearing.]

The decision was made because subcommittee members decided to partially accept a motion from Visions’ attorney Jeff Scott Olson to limit the scope of the investigation to the last year.

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Emily Hamer is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She joined the paper in April 2019 and was formerly an investigative reporting intern at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.