Teen Strippers, Old Enough to Be Indoor Hookers but Too Young to Drive

Elizabeth Roberts' 17-year-old daughter was put through the bureaucratic wringer to get a summer job in her home state of Rhode Island this year.

Under state law, the teenager could not operate a power saw, work on ladders or even pump gas. The state also regulates how many hours and times of day minors can work.

But in Rhode Island, where Roberts is lieutenant governor, the teen -- with a work permit -- can take off all her clothes at a strip club, even those where adult men can touch the merchandise.

Just this week the Providence Journal revealed that a loophole in the state's minor laws do not restrict girls as young as 16 from working as strippers, as long as they are home by 11:30 p.m.

This spring, while investigating a 16-year-old runaway who had been working at one of Providence's notorious strip clubs, police discovered that they could not prosecute, because there were no local or state laws barring teens from working in the city's thriving adult entertainment business.

"To think that any minor could just as easily be employed as a stripper is mind-boggling," Roberts said. "This must end immediately."

In other parts of the country, even in Las Vegas, there are age limits on strippers, according to the report.

"When I saw yesterday's paper, I had a visceral reaction -- it's an outrage that we would ever have allowed this to happen -- that anyone would hire a young person we are meant to protect," Roberts told ABCNews.com.

"Everyone was completely shocked to learn it wasn't against the law," she said. "None of us was aware of it."

Strip Club Described as 'Dark and Dirty'

The 16-year-old runaway had been working at Cheaters, described by the Boston Strip Club Directory as "dark and dirty."

Cheaters refused to comment to ABCNews.com.

"You get more contact here talking to a woman at the bar than you do in most clubs during a lap dance, and in the private rooms, anything goes for probably half the women working there, and the others will still make sure you leave happy," reported one of its customers.

Now, amidst the embarrassing publicity in a state that has one of the highest unemployment rates and a reputation for corruption, Roberts is supporting a bill introduced by state Rep. Joanne Giannini, D-Providence, that would close that loophole.

Notorious Strip Clubs in Staid New England

Providence's seven or eight strip clubs are notorious around otherwise staid New England.

When the Fraternal Order of Police comes to town for their annual convention, buses were hired to transport members to the strip clubs, according to local social historian Scott McKay.

When NFL teams come to the Patriots' Foxboro, Mass., stadium, they stay closer to Rhode Island so they can have evening entertainment, according to McKay.

Founded by religious dissidents, some say the state -- which is not really an island -- is quick to forgive. During his three-decade tenure as mayor Providence, Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, served two prison sentences. One of the prison terms came after he was convicted of throwing a burning log at a man he suspected of having an affair with his wife.

Rhode Island has always been staunchly independent; its founder Puritan Roger Williams bucked government intervention, famously admonishing, "Forced religion stinks in the nostrils of God."

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