Addressing the issue of prostitution and alleged human trafficking in the adult entertainment industry, Attorney General Kilmartin has filed legislation that requires owners, operators, employees and independent contractors to undergo a national criminal background check. The legislation, H7518, sponsored by Representative Joy Hearn (D-District 66, Barrington, East Providence) is scheduled to be heard before the House Committee on Judiciary today, Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
This act would require, as of September 1, 2014, those persons who are owners, operators, employees or independent contractors of an adult entertainment business or establishment to undergo a national criminal records check. Those persons whose national criminal records check returned disqualifying information would be barred from owning, operating or working in these businesses or establishments.
"Events over the past year have brought to light the need to further regulate the individuals that may own and operate adult entertainment establishments and individuals they may employ. It has been found that some of the local establishments of this nature have allowed prostitution to take place and even allowed a minor to work in their place of business," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Due to the environment of these businesses, it is imperative that there be some protections against exploitation and criminal activity that are alleged to take place at these establishments. Requiring a national criminal records check of those who own, operate, work or independently contract at these facilities not only would verify the age of these individuals, it would provide a deterrent to hiring underage persons due to potential license revocation for not mandating a national criminal records check."
"The adult entertainment industry in our state has once again become a front page story — one that includes a 14-year-old girl hired to be a stripper. It is our responsibility to our children and to women across the state that we take very seriously their protection and will work actively against human trafficking and prostitution," said Representative Hearn. "I am pleased to be sponsoring H7518 on behalf of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin to aggressively send the message to the adult entertainment industry in Rhode Island that things must change. This legislation requires owners, operators, employees and independent contractors to undergo a national criminal background check. I believe this step will go a long way in curtailing behavior that has crossed the line."
Adult entertainment businesses and establishments are regulated by the municipal licensing authority of the city of town where the business or establishment is located. The act provides that the municipal licensing authority receive the results of the national criminal records checks for owners and operators prior to the granting of a license or the renewal of a license.
The act further provides that owners and operators must keep records of the national criminal records checks of those seeking employment or to become an independent contractor on file subject to inspection by the municipal licensing authority. Failure to require and maintain such checks would be prima facie grounds to revoke the license of the adult entertainment business or establishment.