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Hartford man federally charged with human trafficking

HARTFORD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Family members of a Hartford man charged with human trafficking say the accusations are not true. But the FBI and the Wisconsin Human Trafficking Taskforce has information going back years, according to new court documents.

Christopher Childs, 46, was charged in Federal Court last week. The criminal complaint outlines details of regular beatings and sexually assaults of at least four women.

By charging this one individual, prosecutors may not be done. According to the court documents, management at two Dodge County strip clubs may have had some kind of relationship with Childs - who's accused of controlling most aspects of these women's' lives.

Less than 2,000 live in the town Lebanon. But the local strip club "TNT" was described in court documents as a regular place of business for Childs. Another location listed was "The Hardware Store" strip club in Clyman.

The criminal complaint relies heavily on information from a woman described as "Victim 1" who talks about how she got sucked into a life that for years included beatings, no control over her own money, and sexual assault as punishment.

"Victim 1" says Childs would use his past experiences as threats. She told investigators about his boasts of a more violent past, that "...he would make his girls sit in bathtubs filled with ice for hours, and that he made one victim sleep outside in the snow...Childs would beat a new girl particularly violently to determine whether she could withstand future beatings and be 'worth keeping'."

Childs family says it's all false accusations. A woman at his home said: "The woman who set him up did it because she's jealous and she wants him."

"This woman is crazy and obsessed," she continued, before closing the door.

Another woman, labeled "Victim 2" in the criminal complaint, had text messages that authorities say show Childs' 'ownership' mentality over women.

Here she is trying to break free from the life of prostitution while using a phone Childs 'allowed' her to use:

Victim 2:
"I'm going to sleep. Do you want me to bring your phone tomorrow?"

Childs:
"Bring more than the phone"

Victim 2:
"Like? I don't have anything else of yours."

Childs:
"You are mine...You gave yourself to me and I'm not getting rid of you"

Victim 2:
"Why won't you let go? This isn't an argument. I'm not [expletive] with you anymore. I just want to bring you your property."

Childs:
"You are my property"

Workers at the Hardware Store Strip Club said they would not comment about Chris Childs or what he was doing. TNT appeared closed on Monday afternoon.

Childs faces 15 years to life in prison.

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