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Wisconsin's new 'Snuggle House' closes amid scrutiny

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The Associated Press on Monday took a lengthy look at the controversial Snuggle House in Madison, where for $60 customers could spend an hour spooning with a professional cuddler.

But in another story Monday, the AP notes that the fledgling business has closed for good. The lawyer for the owner told the AP he decided to close rather than try to weather increasing scrutiny from city officials.

Supporters of the new venture voiced their disappointment on Snuggle House's Facebook page.

Business owner Michael Hurtado had said that the business was legitimate and aimed only to provide therapeutic hugging to clients.

"I'm so passionate about it," employee Hannah Rode told the Capital Times in September. "It's almost like a cause for me: bringing more hugs and touch into this world. Because we are, I feel, often disconnected. This is for people who have partners and don’t have partners."

But the operation, which officially opened in October, raised eyebrows, even in Madison, a liberal university town that allows naked bike rides and wild street parties.

City leaders put the business in its sights, fearing it could lead to prostitution or sexual assaults. "There's no way that (sexual assault) will not happen," assistant city attorney Jennifer Zilavy told the Associated Press. "No offense to men, but I don't know any man who wants to just snuggle."

Hurtado was "tired of people taking potshots at him," his lawyer Timothy Casper said, the AP reported. "He doesn't need that."

The business was not a total novelty. Police in Rochester, N.Y., told the AP they've had no complaints about The Snuggery, which offers overnight cuddling. Be The Love You Are in Boulder, Colorado, and Cuddle Therapy in San Francisco offer similar pay-for-snuggling services.

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