A prominent businessman and president of the Rams Head Group, a homegrown brand that includes concert venues and restaurants across Maryland, has been charged with videotaping women in a bathroom at the company's Savage Mill location.
Kyle Muehlhauser, 37, of Severna Park turned himself in last week. He faces six counts of visual surveillance with prurient intent stemming from a 10-month investigation by police, Howard County police announced Monday.
The case sparked outrage in the suburban enclave about midway between Baltimore and Washington and prompted the Rams Head Group to address the incident.
"We understand the community's rightful concerns," the group said in a statement. "Since the incident in May 2014, we have been focused on ensuring that all of our facilities are safe and secure. No other locations or incidents are involved.
"We pledge our continued cooperation in the investigation and that the well-being of our guests and staff shall remain our first priority," the statement read.
The Rams Head Group, owned by Muehlhauser and his father, Bill Muehlhauser, operates restaurants in Savage, Annapolis, Crownsville and Queen Anne's County, as well as concert venues Rams Head Center Stage at Maryland Live casino in Hanover and Rams Head Live in Baltimore. The group also operates Pier Six Pavilion for Baltimore City, which owns the venue.
The group called the filming "an isolated situation involving one bathroom at the Rams Head Tavern Savage Mill location more than nine months ago."
A spokeswoman for the group did not respond to additional questions about the incident or Muehlhauser's status with the company.
Kyle Muehlhauser, who was released on $35,000 bond, did not have an attorney listed in online court records. No one answered the door at his Severna Park home, and neither he nor his father could be reached by phone Monday.
Howard County's investigation began in May after a woman at Rams Head Tavern at the Historic Savage Mill shopping center told police a digital video camera fell onto the floor next to her in a women's bathroom. Police said they recovered the camera and found images of six women on its memory card. The women could not be identified, police said.
A detective — who took the hidden digital camera from the bathroom in May 2014 and later viewed footage — wrote in charging documents that "the camera was pointed in the direction of the toilet."
Police said the memory card also included blurred images of a man wearing a black shirt and gray pants installing the camera. Detectives later reviewed surveillance video from the restaurant and saw a man matching the same description. Police said he was later identified as Kyle Muehlhauser.
DNA found on the camera was matched to Muehlhauser in December, police said. Charging documents indicate police seized additional evidence, which isn't described, when they served a search warrant at his home.
Howard County police said they had not received additional complaints as of Monday, but notified other jurisdictions of the case and were continuing their investigation.
Annapolis police also are investigating, though they had not received complaints regarding Rams Head's West Street location, department spokeswoman Cpl. Amy Miguez said. The agency was made aware of the Savage Mill allegations within the last week, Miguez said.
"We're definitely looking into it," she said.
Anne Arundel police said they were not aware of similar incidents at the Rams Head's Crownsville and Hanover locations. Queen Anne's County police could not be reached for comment regarding Rams Head's Shore House location in Stevensville.
Kevin Harris, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, said it was "too early" to say whether the city would re-evaluate its partnership with the company at Pier Six. "We haven't made any sort of determination about what the next steps would be," he said.
Muehlhauser was named to the board of directors of the National Aquarium in Baltimore in 2013. Officials at the aquarium could not be reached for comment.
The owners and tenants of Historic Savage Mill, the shopping mall where the incident took place, said they were shocked to learn of the allegations.
Chuck Dick, a Savage native who was visiting the mill with a friend from Annapolis, said the news was "hard to understand." The two planned to eat dinner at Rams Head.
"It just seems like such a silly, tragic thing," he said. "It's a shock, it's a disappointment. ...
"We're saddened for the black eye it leaves on our little town."
Jay Winer, managing partner for Savage Mill, said in a statement that Rams Head Tavern has been a "superior and upstanding tenant and major part of Savage Mill for nearly 20 years."
"We have been assured by the Howard County Police department that although their investigation remains active, they have no reason to believe that any Mill personnel had any knowledge of or involvement in this unfortunate and illegal activity," Winer said in the statement.
The mill was nearly empty midafternoon Monday. Shop owners said that was because people were at work, but many said they worry about the impact the news could have on business.
Roxana Sinex, who owns Roxy's Art in the mill, said she thought customers would distinguish between Rams Head and the rest of the shops at the mill.
"It's an individual who did something," she said. "I don't think it will have an impact on the mill."
Still, she called Rams Head the center's anchor and said the mill could suffer if the company struggles. Her husband, Stephen Sinex, who owns The Family Game Store, agreed.
"If it affects Rams Head at all, it will dramatically affect the mill," he said.
Muehlhauser began working at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis as a dishwasher at age 15, according to a 2007 article in The Baltimore Sun. His father opened the Annapolis restaurant in 1989, and Muehlhauser worked there while earning a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Maryland. Kyle Muehlhauser opened the Savage Mill restaurant in 1999 and later opened two more locations.
He is scheduled to appear in Howard County District Court on April 9.
Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Amanda Yeager and Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.