Sex Trafficking Survivor Sues Nevada, Government Officials, Brothels, and Brothel Owner/County Commissioner for Violating 13th Amendment
WASHINGTON, DC (February 8, 2024) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) and Jason Guinasso, a Nevada Attorney representing victims of sex trafficking, filed a lawsuit (Doe v. Lombardo) on behalf of Jane Doe, a sex trafficking survivor, against four of Nevada’s infamous legal brothels (Chicken Ranch, Desert Rose, Bella’s, Mustang Ranch), and Mustang Ranch brothel owner/Storey County Commissioner Lance Gilman for sex trafficking her, and against their county governments (Nye, Elko, and Storey Counties), along with Nevada’s Governor Joseph Lombardo and Attorney General Aaron Ford, for facilitating the abuses.
Plaintiff Jane Doe was sex trafficked in legal Nevada brothel prostitution between 2017-2022, that is, she was induced to engage in commercial sex acts through force, fraud, and coercion – including psychological manipulation, constraints on her movement, and debt – in legal brothels operating in Nevada. The lawsuit asserts the defendants violated the 13th Amendment’s ban on slavery and involuntary servitude and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
“Jane Doe is a victim of sex trafficking, which Nevada’s system of legalized prostitution enabled. The conditions in the brothels that prostituted Jane Doe were deeply coercive: designed to keep her indebted to them and under their control. Nevada has violated the 13th Amendment’s ban on slavery and involuntary servitude,” said Christen Price, senior legal counsel, National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
“Nevada has allowed its legal brothels to engage in sex trafficking with impunity. The State of Nevada, along with Nye, Elko, and Storey Counties, have given legal cover for the sex trade by licensing the brothels and requiring Doe and others who have been prostituted to remain under their control. Jane Doe’s rights have been violated and she deserves justice,” said Jason Guinasso, co-counsel for the plaintiff and a Nevada Attorney representing victims of sex trafficking.
The complaint sheds light on debt bondage and other coercive practices Nevada’s legal brothels used to trap Doe and other women who worked at the brothels, including, though not limited to, the following:
- Being locked inside the brothels and not allowed to leave for weeks at a time;
- Having to give the brothel 50% of their earnings;
- Being required to follow the brothel’s rules or face fines; and
- Being forced to live on the premises and pay the brothels for room and board to do so.
Nevada is the only U.S. state that permits legal brothels to exist in certain counties, and most of those are in remote locations. Nevada’s legal brothels generate an estimated $75 million dollars per year, a figure dwarfed by the $5 billion a year Nevada’s illegal sex trade generates. Legalized prostitution increases the demand for commercial sex, and men travel to Nevada to buy sex because they (incorrectly) believe it is legal throughout the state.The sex industry exploits this misconception with impunity by operating both legal and illegal entities that violate federal laws against debt bondage and sex trafficking, without facing any meaningful enforcement from Nevada.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center offers survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse a way to seek justice. More information can be found at: https://sexualexploitationlawsuits.com.
About National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography. www.EndSexualExploitation.org