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

Rhode Island's quirky laws allow teens to strip or enter "indoor" prostitution.

ByABC News
July 22, 2009, 6:10 PM

July 23, 2009— -- 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."

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.