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NE lawmaker: Escorts out, by hooker by crook

By   /   January 25, 2013  /   3 Comments

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN – Two years ago Sen. Mark Christensen was just about laughed out of a Capitol committee room for proposing a bill to regulate and license escort services in Nebraska, he says.

BUSTED: Escort services in Nebraska, which one lawmaker contends often venture into the sex trade, could face new rules and regulations under a proposed law.

Fast-forward to today, and some of the skeptics aren’t laughing any more. In fact, some of his fellow lawmakers better understand the point of his previous proposal — to crack down on escort services that actually are in the business of selling sex.

“That’s what I’m after,” he said.

He has introduced a bill, LB314, that would require escort services to be licensed by the state and regulated. In his crosshairs are escort services offering fully nude exotic escorts and private dancers that offer much, much more than a date.

Christensen said he worked with the Lincoln Police Department and Nebraska Highway Patrol to address an industry that can evolve into human trafficking, with women being moved from one strip joint to another along the interstate.

Part of Christensen’s proposal would require strip clubs and escort services to list a physical address with a local telephone number. The business owners also would have to maintain employee records.

While business owners often claim their employees don’t engage in illegal sex acts, making only their employees subject to arrest, Christensen’s bill would make the owners liable for operating an illegal business.

“We know nobody will set up one (an escort service) … because then they couldn’t do the prostitution,” Christensen said.

CRACKDOWN: Christensen wants to crack down on escort services that he says are really prostitution rackets.

Lincoln Public Safety Director Tom Casady said he couldn’t comment on the bill without authorization from Mayor Chris Beutler’s office, where aide Denise Pearce said the staff hasn’t yet reviewed the bill.

In 2008, Casady talked about the frustration of dealing with escort services that venture into prostitution, saying the owners of escort services eluded prosecution with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach.

About a decade ago, Lincoln police proposed an ordinance modeled after a Wichita, Kan., law banning escorts from having sex of any kind or touching sexual organs, but city hall never took action.

The owner of a Lincoln escort service, who did not want to be named to avoid harassment, said her escorts do not prostitute themselves.

“That is totally false,” she said. “None of my girls have ever been in trouble with law enforcement.”

She said she’s owned the business for about three-and-a-half years and there aren’t as many escorts as there used to be. The telephone directory list far fewer escort services than a few years ago, and although there are many listed online, many of the phone numbers are disconnected. The Lincoln escort service owner said she thinks she’s the only such business operating in the city now.

When told the proposed legislation would ban nudity and sexual massage, she said of her escorts, “They’re gonna do what they want to do, regardless.”

Contact Deena Winter at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org.

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Deena Winter has been a journalist for over 20 years, writing stories for the Northwood Gleaner, Bismarck Tribune, Associated Press, Denver Post and Lincoln Journal Star before joining Watchdog.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Good old “smaller Government” GOP – except when it comes to creating the Department of Bedroom Policing and the Division of Vagina Control and other intrusions into personal privacy. Sounds like Sen. Christensen is trying to over compensate for his own purulent secret life . . .

    And what about the escort who decides to give it away for free after the date is over?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Harbert/100001406372795 David Harbert

    isn’t it great that with a poor economy, too high unemployment, failing society and institutions, a short sighted-smaller government politician goes after the only group that has a history as old as politics?

  • cliveklg

    Won’t stop a thing, and only hurt legitimate businesses. But then that is the point. They want to stop even those not resorting to prostitution.

    Having known a woman who managed an agency in the past, It is clear that the senator is really naive, and biased in his perceptions of those who work there. He proves it right here:

    ““We know nobody will set up one (an escort service) … because then they couldn’t do the prostitution,” Christensen said.”

    He has a preconceived notion that all of them are doing this only to set up prostitution. And that is not true.