For his part, Dennard has distanced himself from the club, saying he has long since changed his lifestyle.
“I was, two decades ago, involved in the peripheral of an establishment that in my eyes is less than of standard moral character,” Dennard said. “More than being concerned by the family-values part, my focus in life and business at that time was fueled by greed. That’s where my main sin is. My fault would have been fueled by greed.”
Dennard said his former wife, Brenda, was involved in operating the Cyprus Lounge on Canton Highway in Marietta during their marriage, and that his association was limited to his name being on documents.
He worked in the security business from 1987 to 2007, while his ex-wife was involved in the Cyprus Lounge, Dennard said. He said his name was listed on the liquor license, but that was the extent of his involvement.
“I was around from time to time, but spent little time in the establishment,” he said.
Dennard said he never profited from the club and severed any ties to it through a quitclaim deed in his 1995 divorce proceedings.
“I changed my life around and have given my life to Christ,” Dennard said.
“I am embarrassed by my past, no doubt about that,” he said. “I’m ashamed of it. I hate talking about it, unless I believe God can use it to help somebody else.”
Dennard, 50, has worked his entire nine-year law enforcement career with the Acworth Police Department, rising through the ranks. A 1980 Sprayberry High School graduate, he is expected to receive a master’s in public administration from Columbus State University next month. He is also a FBI National Academy graduate.
He has been married nearly 17 years to his current wife, Melinda, and has four children.
Dennard is expected to be unanimously approved and sworn in as the new police chief when the city Board of Aldermen meet to vote on his three-year, $80,500 contract at 7 p.m. tonight at City Hall at 4415 Senator Russell Ave.
Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said he only learned about Dennard’s connection to the strip club a week ago, but that some aldermen may have known about it for a while. Either way, the mayor said he and the aldermen discussed the matter and that Dennard has their complete confidence.
“He’s passed every background check,” the mayor said. “I think that was just a brief time that he was associated with that.”
As for whether the public should have been made aware of Dennard’s full background before now, Allegood said the situation has had no bearing on his performance with the department.
“It’s just something that’s in his past,” Allegood said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with his qualifications to be chief of police. There’s no reason to disclose that.”
Chief Michael Wilkie recently resigned to become director of the criminal justice program at Bob Jones University, a Christian university in Greenville, S.C.
Wilkie said he personally hired Dennard as a patrol officer and was fully aware of his past association with the strip club. He continues to support Dennard’s promotion to chief of police and said other city officials were made aware of his past.
“I was well aware of it ten years ago when I hired him,” Wilkie said. “He was never an owner and never involved in it. In fact, back in that time frame, that’s when Wayne Dennard had the religious experience of coming to Christ.”
City Manager Brian Bulthuis, who recommended Dennard for police chief, said he decided to promote from within rather than look at outside candidates to preserve continuity.
According to the city of Marietta’s business license division, the Cyprus Lounge closed in 2003. The only current strip club operating in the city is Boomer’s on Cobb Parkway.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Marietta’s city ordinance that requires a club to choose between having nude dancers and serving liquor, after the Cyprus Lounge, Boomer’s and Taj Mahal filed a suit against the city. The ordinance was adopted in 1995 and remains in effect.
The Cyprus Lounge opted to forfeit its liquor license and keep the nude dancing, said Doug Haynie, city attorney for both Marietta and Acworth.
Haynie said he’s not concerned about Dennard’s past.
“My experience with the police-chief-to-be is that he’s a first-class guy and he’ll do a great job,” he said.