Clients will once again be able to solicit the company of legal sex workers at Nevada’s brothels as owners open the doors to their establishments this weekend after being shuttered for more than a year — longer than virtually all other businesses — because of the pandemic.
In a setback for efforts to open the doors to Nevada brothels, a Lyon County judge denied Bunny Ranch sex worker Alice Little’s petition in her lawsuit against Gov. Steve Sisolak’s closure order.
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A licensed sex worker in Nevada is suing Gov. Steve Sisolak over what she calls the “unconstitutional” decision to keep the state’s legal brothels closed even as other businesses resume operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Services allowing physical contact around the state have been allowed to resume service, with tattoo shops, estheticians, and massage parlors open since May. Women who work in Nevada’s legal sex industry say they feel they’re being ignored not because of the risk their business poses but because of a bias against their industry.
Under the new regulations, operators of massage establishments in the city will be required to obtain an FBI background check and have a manager present during operating hours. Businesses are also no longer allowed to have an on-site ATM, tinted exterior windows, or recording devices in treatment rooms.
"We wanted people to have the opportunity to talk about violent situations, and anything bad that may have happened to them, so we could give them tips and pointers on how to prevent those things from happening again,” Cheatom said.
A brothel protesting that the state has classified sex workers as its employees rather than as independent contractors — a change that could mean the brothel owes a large sum to the state’s unemployment insurance fund — is now arguing over public records before the Nevada Supreme Court.
Recent media coverage and controversy prompted Mustang Ranch owner and land developer Lance Gilman — who has kept a lower profile than the reality TV star Hof — to “throw the doors open” to his Storey County brothel last week. Gilman said he invited the media to create a sense of transparency into his business and legal prostitution overall.
Anderson 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. In spite of those high numbers of suspicious businesses, she points to just two that have been shut down.
One of the faces at the forefront of efforts against human trafficking is Nick Trutanich, U.S. attorney for the District of Nevada, whose office is tasked with investigating such cases. The Nevada Independent caught up with Trutanich at the seminar to discuss the challenges of those prosecutions, as well as his office’s priorities on marijuana enforcement and public corruption cases.
An autopsy report released Thursday indicates Hof, 72, died of natural causes — specifically “acute myocardial infarction due to atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease.” It notes that diabetes and obesity were also significant factors, and a toxicology report found caffeine, Viagra and the active ingredient in marijuana in his blood.
“We have a lot of sex trafficking that uses that as a cloak,” Spearman said about why she signed on to the bill. She also said there were other potential legal models aside from what Nevada has, pointing to the Nordic model, in which prostitution is decriminalized but buying sex is a crime.
Even when police and city officials see telltale signs that women are living full-time in massage parlors and working illegally as prostitutes, it can be a near-impossible task to get victims to testify against the people who are profiting from them and shut the business down once and for all, officials told lawmakers on Tuesday.
Oscarson told The Nevada Independent he plans to submit his application on Thursday. He was first elected in 2012 and represented the district for three terms before losing an ugly primary against Hof this year.
At an educational forum about a potential Lyon County brothel ban, there was a moment of silence for Hof, who died in his sleep last week. He was a polarizing figure whose name will still appear as a Republican Assembly candidate on the November ballot, and one who raised the profile of brothels through an HBO reality show.
The possible trafficking indicators were among the findings Sheriff Al McNeil presented Thursday at the Lyon County Commission meeting as part of an internal audit into his agency’s procedures for registering prostitutes. It comes as Lyon County voters are considering an advisory question on their ballots that could lead to a brothel ban.
Lyon County sheriff’s officials said Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents joined them on unannounced visits to the county’s legal brothels on Wednesday afternoon, but the stops were educational and did not lead to arrests or citations.