Wednesday, May 21, 2003

From correspondents in Washington

US study group ends up at brothel

VISITORS from six southeast Asian nations toured a brothel during a State Department-sponsored visit to the United States, it has emerged.

The group of 10 accepted an invitation from a spokesman for the brothel — the "Moonlite Bunny Ranch" — to visit the facility outside the Nevada state capital of Carson City, US officials said. The Moonlite Bunny Ranch bills itself as one of Nevada's most upscale brothels and features sex workers named "Air Force Amy", "Caressa Kisses" and "Sexy Deanna", according to its website.

Lynn Cassel, a State Department spokeswoman, said: "During a scheduled May 14 briefing with the assistant administrator for archives and records for the Nevada State Library and Archives Department, an unscheduled guest, a representative of the ranch, invited the group to visit.

"While in the United States, these visitors are provided the opportunity to meet state and local government officials, we can't control those meetings."

Cassel said the group had also visited Washington, New York, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Seattle and Reno, Nevada as part of the tour which was sponsored by the department's International Visitors Program.

The program brings foreign officials, scholars and others to the United States on study tours.

The southeast Asian group — which included men and women — was looking at US efforts to stamp out the trafficking of women and children, Cassel said.

She could not offer details about what happened at the brothel.

A second department official with knowledge of the trip, however, said nothing "untoward" had happened.

The Nevada Appeal newspaper described the visit as an unexpected "bonus" for the visitors.

The paper said those taking the tour included visitors from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Prostitution is legal in Nevada.

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Created: January 9, 2004
Last modified: January 14, 2004
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