(September 11, 2019) – Bree Zender of KUNR inked a new article on Tuesday related to Nevada’s legal brothels and the moral crusade of a particularly creepy Reno lawyer who wants to shut them down.
As Ms. Zender notes, because Las Vegas is promoted as “Sin City” – including its iconic slogan of “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” – many tourists believe prostitution is legal on the Las Vegas Strip.
Sex-for-fee legal and regulated brothels only exist in a handful of rural Nevada counties – not the major urban counties of Clark (Las Vegas) and Washoe (Reno).
But in an absurd leap of tortured logic, Jason “Creepy” Guinasso, and a handful of former sex workers are trying to make the case that the existence of legal brothels FAR from the Strip and America’s Biggest Little City “attracts illegal sex trafficking to the state.”
Which is like saying the existence of Walgreen’s and CVS attracts illegal drug dealers.
In any event, these moralist crusaders – who just can’t bring themselves to live and let live – have filed a federal lawsuit claiming Nevada’s legal brothels violate the federal Mann Act prohibiting interstate travel for “immoral purposes.”
One of the plaintiffs making this claim, Rebekah Charleston (a.k.a. Rebekah Kay Dean, a.k.a., Nicole A. Wilson), has been claiming – without proof or corroboration – that while she was working as an illegal prostitute in Dallas and Las Vegas her street pimp sent her to work in legal Nevada brothels as a form of punishment.
Although no one can find any record of her EVER working in a legal brothel, here are the facts…
To work in a legal brothel adult women need to apply for a work card from the local sheriff and subject themselves to a rigorous FBI background check, including fingerprinting.
IF … and that’s a big *if* … Charleston-Dean-Wilson was ever forced by her street pimp to work in a legal brothel she would have had to lie on her work applications. The same way she lied to the IRS on her tax returns which resulted in time behind bars.
By the way: Isn’t it curious that Ms. Charleston-Dean-Wilson never says specifically when she supposedly worked in a legal brothel and never names her alleged trafficker even though she’s been free from him for over a decade? Her story just doesn’t add up.
In any event, if she lied to the sheriff and lied to the brothel you can’t blame the sheriff or the brothel. And that is decidedly NOT a reason to shut down Nevada’s legal, licensed, regulated and SAFE brothels.
As for Guinasso, Ms. Zender notes that he’s “attempted to ban brothels in multiple Nevada counties through ballot questions and petitions, though those attempts have failed.”
In an effort to explain his multiple failures, Guinasso burbled, “I think there’s a reluctance of men… especially men who are willing to buy sex.”
Nice try. But here’s another inconvenient truth: Guinasso’s initiative to ban brothels in Lyon County last year was crushed at the ballot box, 80-20 percent.
Now, truth be told, I haven’t looked at the census numbers for Lyon County. But I’m willing to bet it’s not made up of 80% men and 20% women!
Lance Gilman, owner of the Mustang Ranch in rural Storey County, defended Nevada’s legal brothels against Guinasso’s and Charleston’s ridiculous claim that they “encourage trafficking.”
“The reason the ladies come to legal brothels primarily is because they are safer,” Gilman said. “If they are on the illegal side of the industry, in any city in the nation… and they’re there everywhere… there’s really no safety from the predators.”
In fact, FOX Business published a story just a couple weeks ago about “rampant sex trafficking” in Atlanta that took place in well-established hotel chain franchises, including Red Roof, La Quinta and Extended Stay.
In a lawsuit recently filed against the hotel chains, four unidentified women – including two who say they were underage at the time – allege that hotel employees “were paid by traffickers to turn a blind eye” to what was going on and “act as lookouts for the Johns.”
From the FOX report…
“In Chamblee, a victim at the Suburban Extended Stay told an employee she had been attacked ‘in an attempt to escape,’ the suit alleges, but the worker relayed the information to the trafficker – who then assaulted the woman for doing so.
“At La Quinta Inn in Alpharetta, a victim was beaten so viciously by her John over the course of six hours that blood riddled the walls and surrounding areas of the hotel room, the suit states.”
Please, Mr. Guinasso and Ms. Charleston-Dean-Wilson, explain how forcing these women to work illegally in Atlanta is safer for women than working in a legal brothel? And especially the fact that the legal and regulated system PREVENTS underage girls from working in them.
Or, closer to home, consider this story by Michelle Rindels of the Nevada Independent last month…
“Sandy Anderson, director of the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapy… believes that among the nearly 1,000 licensed establishments in the state, about 25 in the Reno area and 150-200 in the Las Vegas area may be fostering illegal prostitution or sex trafficking activity.”
And that comes on the heels of this report a week earlier by Rio Lacanlale of the Las Vegas Review-Journal…
“The FBI recently rescued 14 child sex trafficking victims and arrested 33 suspected traffickers in Las Vegas, the highest total in the U.S. during a nationwide sweep in July known as Operation Independence Day.”
Which came out just a few days after this story by Sabrina Schnur of the Las Vegas Review-Journal…
“Two men were arrested in July on domestic battery and sex trafficking charges in Las Vegas after punching their girlfriends, who both admitted to being prostitutes working for the men, according to police reports.”
One of the women reported that her trafficker, Wesley Cherry, “had forced her to work as a prostitute for the past five years and she wanted to get away from him.” In retaliation, he “hit her in the face and broke her phone.”
“If she did not work, she told police, ‘Cherry would become violent with her by choking her and slamming her on the ground.’
“It was just easier to place the ads online and go out and perform sexual acts for money than to deal with the beatings,” she told police.
Note again: Brothels are NOT legal in Reno and Las Vegas. Yet that clearly hasn’t stopped prostitution, violence against women and sex trafficking – including of minors – in those communities.
It’s almost as if “prohibition” doesn’t work.
Yet Guinasso, Charleston-Dean-Wilson and other prohibitionists continue their crusade to outlaw the handful of legal brothels in rural Nevada where the women are grown adults who freely choose to work there and are exceedingly safe.
During the 2019 legislative session, the Legislature approved an interim study of the working conditions at Nevada’s legal brothels. Fair enough.
But if the brothel study committee REALLY wants to protect the health, safety and welfare of women in the commercial sex industry in Nevada, it ought to expand its examination to the working conditions for women working where brothels remain illegal.
THAT’S where the real problems lie.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a limited-government grassroots advocacy organization, and government affairs counsel to the Nevada Brothel Association. His views are his own.