State-enabled Sex Trafficking Exposed by Nevada Brothel Lawsuit

Meet Jane Doe.

She is one of the countless women who have been exploited and sex trafficked in legal, state-sanctioned Nevada brothels.

“Legalizing prostitution makes it’s safer,” people say. “It’s a job just like any other,” people say.

But let’s look at what Jane and the other women experienced in these brothels. And we will see if it seems like a normal job.

Jane’s Story: What it’s Really Like in Legal Nevada Brothels

The brothels Jane was sex trafficked in—which included well-known, “reputable” brothels like Mustang Ranch (owned by Story County Commissioner, Lance Gilman), Chicken Ranch, and Desert Rose—were usually surrounded by high, barbed wire fences and locked gates that Jane and the other women had no key for. Jane was not allowed to leave, nor even step outside into the locked yard, without asking for permission. When permission was granted for Jane and the women to leave, they were restricted to staying in certain locations and had to disclose where exactly they were going. 

Jane Doe was forced to open her mail and her medications in front of brothel staff. At Chicken Ranch, Jane was often denied medication altogether. When Jane Doe was sent jewelry, Chicken Ranch forced her to sell it and took half of the proceeds.

Taking half of the women’s money was a standard procedure among these brothels. Chicken Ranch, Mustang Ranch, and Desert Rose all took 50% of the money that Jane Doe and the other women got from the sex buyers—and charged them exorbitant fees on top of that. In some cases, they were charged for benefits they didn’t actually receive; for example, Chicken Ranch charged a $50/week cleaning fee, even though the women had to do their own cleaning.

The brothels also regularly garnished Jane and the other women’s wages through ludicrous fines; for example, they would be fined for things as minor as using too many towels. At all three of the brothels, Jane and the women were only given three minutes notice to present themselves for a lineup (i.e., standing in line so a sex buyer could choose which woman he wanted) and were heavily fined if they were late (an outrageous $1500 at Mustang Ranch, $500 at Chicken Ranch, and $100 at Desert Rose).

Because of these practices, many of the women not only failed to earn reasonable wages, but actually became indebted to the brothels. This only furthered the brothel’s control over them.

In addition to the financial abuse, the living and “working” conditions in brothels were unconscionable. For example, at Chicken Ranch, women got sick from eating undercooked meat, and Jane Doe was once hospitalized because of spoiled food that was served. Women were made to do 24-hour shifts and could not use the restroom or take a nap without asking for permission. They were forced to wear heels, even if injured.

Violence was prevalent at the brothels. Weapons were regularly sighted and members of organized crime were allowed to enter.

When Jane Doe wanted to go to the police about the abuses happening at the brothels, she was bullied and threatened with legal action. Finally, she was kicked out into the street in her pajamas, without any of her documents, belongings, or her final paycheck.

After all her time “working” at the brothel, Jane only had just enough money to call an Uber.

When she took the Uber and showed up at a hotel without any money, the hotel staff let her stay for free. They understood what had happened to her … because they said it happens “all the time.” 

So once again, we pose the question: Does this sound like a normal job? Does this sound like prostitution that’s been made safer, more ethical, by a legalized system?

The NCOSE Law Center Represents Jane Doe in New Lawsuit

Jane Doe is bravely pursuing legal action against those who profited from and facilitated her exploitation. The NCOSE Law Center is representing her in a new lawsuit against both the brothel owners and Nevada state and county officials, since it was Nevada’s policy of legalized prostitution which allowed these brothels to operate and continue their abuses with impunity. The lawsuit argues that what Jane Doe experienced at the Nevada brothels is a violation of the 13th amendment—it is slavery in the form of sex trafficking.

This is the second lawsuit the NCOSE Law Center has filed against the state of Nevada. These lawsuits are of paramount importance, as they shed light not only on the exploitative practices of Nevada brothels, but on the failings and false promises of legalized prostitution as a whole.

As Jane Doe and all our survivor clients always remain free of charge, your support is a big part of what makes these lawsuits possible. Please consider donating to the NCOSE Law Center, so we can continue fighting for justice for and with these courageous survivors!

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.

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