Editor's Note: These are new developments to a story American Morning first brought you over the summer.
By Beth Rotatori
A legal loophole that allowed minors to perform at strip clubs in Rhode Island has been closed, according to a Rhode Island state lawmaker.
State Representative Joanne Giannini (D-Providence) tells CNN that legislation she introduced to bar anyone under 18 from working in adult entertainment establishments in any capacity was approved by the Rhode Island General Assembly Thursday.
The bill, which takes effect upon passage, is now headed to the desk of Gov. Donald L. Carcieri (R), she said.
“Children should not be publicly performing in any sexual way, ever,” said Rep. Giannini. “It’s called ‘adult entertainment’ for a reason. Minors aren’t supposed to be admitted to those clubs, so they certainly shouldn’t be working in them.”
Before this new legislation, teenagers could perform at strip clubs as long as they were 16, had a work permit and were home by 11:30 p.m. on school nights.
“Having underage girls or boys performing in this way is child exploitation and corruption,” Giannini went on to say. “We’re fixing this law to make it clear that it’s not allowed.”
The loophole came to light in June when Providence police found a 16-year-old Boston runaway, who had been working as a dancer at Cheaters, a Providence strip club. When police investigated her employment at the club, they found there was no law under which they could charge anyone for employing a minor as a stripper, Giannini explained.
Rhode Island lawmakers also passed a bill banning indoor prostitution, which, until Friday, had been legal in the state. Before passage of the ban, another loophole on the state’s books permitted prostitution, as long as solicitation didn’t occur outdoors (ie: as long as prostitutes were not walking the street trying to strike up business).
Giannini said the two issues are closely intertwined, because the indoor prostitution loophole allowed exotic dancers – including any minors who may have legally been working in strip clubs – to engage in prostitution without breaking the law.