EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 25, 2013

City probes violence at private club

Report: Rowdy customer beaten, zapped with stun gun

By Shawn Regan

---- — HAVERHILL — A private downtown club is in trouble for an early-morning incident in which a drunk and rowdy club member was allegedly shot with a stun gun and beaten.

The License Commission is holding a special hearing this afternoon to hear from police and consider disciplinary action against The Hideout club on Emerson Street.

Police said they were called to The Hideout around 2 a.m. Friday by the owner and manager, Tara Viola of Peabody.

When they arrived, officers said two “heavily intoxicated” women came running up to their cruiser yelling wildly about being attacked by “people from The Hideout.”

Police said the female victim told them that she was thrown to the ground by a heavy-set man and shot with a stun gun several times. She had a bruise on her head and a cut on her nose, a police report said. She told police her attacker jumped into a motor vehicle and sped off. The other woman was taken into protective custody after she repeatedly yelled and slurred her speech, the police report said.

Inside the club, Viola told police that she and a male employee were closing up for the night when the two women arrived and started kicking the locked front door to try to get in. Viola told police the women were club members who were there earlier and had been asked to leave around midnight, the police report said. Police said Viola acknowledged having a verbal confrontation with the women, but told the officers she only yelled at them to leave.

According to the police report, officers then asked Viola if she owned a stun gun. She responded that she had one and gave it to the officers, the report said. Police confiscated the device and told Viola that she would be summonsed for illegal possession of an electrical weapon.

When asked about the man who allegedly attacked the women outside, Viola told police she did not witness any disturbance other than the one caused by the two women trying to get into the club, the police report said.

Police have cited Viola for several violations, including having an illegal weapon on the promises, violating private club rules and noise complaints from neighbors. Possible punishment ranges from a warning to suspension or revocation of the club’s license to sell alcohol.

Joseph Edwards, chairman the License Commission, deferred comment until today’s hearing, which is at 3 p.m. at City Hall.

While investigating last week’s incident, police also uncovered other potential license violations. One of the female victims told police she is regularly buzzed into the club after hours to use the bathroom. Police also noted that one of the female victims did not have a driver’s license in her possession. Viola told police the woman was not regularly asked to show proof of her age because she is a club member.

In July, the commission warned Viola about following private club rules after police said the club was caught operating with the guest book behind the bar instead of in a conspicuous place, in violation of a city ordinance.

Police uncovered the problem after they dropped in to check how the establishment was being run during a promotional night for the public. City rules require that private clubs keep a guest book in plain sight and that everyone in the club is either a member or signed in by a member.

At the commission’s July hearing, police Lt. Robert Pistone said officers visited the club June 20 and asked about the location of the guest sign-in book.

Pistone said officers were told it was on a cabinet behind the bar. He said the officers were asked, “What do you need to see if for?”

“Evidently no one had signed the book and it was called an open night for the public,” Pistone told the commission in July.

At that hearing, Pistone told commission members that there had already been other problems at the club, but he did not elaborate.

Viola opened the club this past summer at the site of the former Sportsmen’s Club.

According to city records, the club has an entertainment license that allows music, dancing by patrons, bands and live performers, jukebox, radio, television, amplifiers and karaoke.