Federal lawsuit filed against Nevada over legal brothels

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A federal lawsuit challenges Nevada's legal brothels.

Solicitation Court offers prostitutes an opportunity to get out of the business.

The plaintiff, Rebekah Charleston of Texas, claims she was forced into prostitution by a boyfriend while she was living on the streets as a homeless runaway. That boyfriend then traded Charleston to a sex trafficker who eventually forced her to "get a job" at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch brothel in Lyon County.

The lawsuit argues that while Nevada allows legal brothels in counties with fewer than 700,000 residents, some of the prostitutes are brought to Nevada against their will.

The federal Mann Act (U.S.C. 18 subsection 2422(a)) prohibits interstate sex trafficking and prostitution. The lawsuit argues, while prostitution may be legal under state law, it encourages the illegal transportation of sex slaves to Nevada in violation of the Mann Act.

The Mustang Ranch has announced it will petition to join in defense against the lawsuit.

Mustang Ranch owner and real estate developer Lance Gilman argues, "Every single worker at the Mustang Ranch is required to undergo an FBI fingerprint and criminal database background check every single year." Gilman also says, "In over 4,000 work card applications filed over the last 20 years by working professionals and employees at the Mustang, not one has turned up to be a victim of trafficking."

Gilman is critical of Charleston's attorney Jason Guinasso. Guinasso served as lawyer for the group, "No Little Girl", which attempted to convince Lyon County to end legal prostitution. The campaign led to an advisory vote in the 2018 General Election to end prostitution in Lyon County that failed by an 80% to 20% margin.

Brothels are legal in Elko, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, Storey and White Pine Counties.