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Entrepreneur Arrested for Tossing Bare Ass Barbecues

PRINCETON, Indiana — The owner of a Fort Branch strip club in limbo went to trial this week on a charge of aiding and abetting public indecency — and says he’s looking to get the law changed to allow total nudity.

“I’m now having conversations with some owners of other nightclubs in Indiana that are looking to get the law changed to allow all nudity, not just the buttocks,” said Old Hickory BBQ owner Darrel Russelburg.

Three dancers arrested along with Russelburg in an Aug. 15 raid, orchestrated by Gibson County Prosecutor Rob Krieg, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor indecency charges and received suspended sentences. They admitted violating a state law that requires a “fully opaque covering” over the buttocks, the record shows. The dancers may testify against Russelburg.

Russelburg said he began offering “booty and barbecue” in early July to recoup $160,000 lost from the two-year restaurant venture, and was making headway until the arrests.

“Since they busted me I’ve probably lost another $90,000,” he said. “I’ll just bide my time until the trial. If I lose, I plan to appeal all the way to the state Supreme Court.”

The entrepreneur said he’s still serving drinks and food, “And if I could find some girls I would have them in here. The bust had a chilling effect” on attracting talent.

Russelburg said he remains willing to discuss a compromise with Krieg and elected officials, “But I won’t plead guilty to anything because I don’t feel like I’m guilty of anything.”

On his way to court for a pretrial hearing, Russelburg said, he noticed a granite Ten Commandments monument on county property, at the northeast corner of the square. The man said he’d never noticed it before and was offended by its presence. He later enlisted the Indiana Civil Liberties Union to file a lawsuit, which is pending.

Although Russelburg said at the time his lawsuit was “tit-for-tat” — that is, a slap back at “puritanical Christians” he blamed for the raid — he said Thursday that the criminal and civil matters are “two separate issues.”

“The thing is, nobody ever tried to negotiate anything with me, and I think with the proper mentality and proper negotiations there could be a reasonable exit for everybody,” Russelburg said.

He said he’s open to discussion about moving the club into an unincorporated area of the county, because “the club being in town limits in a residential area seems to be the main problem …

“These trials are going to cost the county money, and I don’t think the county wants to spend a fortune,” he said.

An incoming member of the town council, elected Tuesday and scheduled to assume office in January, says Russelburg is welcome to voice his concerns to the new administration.

“We have an open forum (at council meetings) and it’s a place for anybody in the community to come in and speak their mind,” said Chris Mosby. “His business is part of the community, whether we like it or not.”



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