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Reno strip club dancers sue police over treatment after sting

RENO, Nev. – Dancers at a Reno strip club have filed a class-action lawsuit against police, claiming detectives harassed and unlawfully detained them after citations were issued in a sting.

The suit was filed Friday, a day after the sting at the Wild Orchid on South Virginia Street that police said was prompted by citizen complaints alleging prostitution.

One dancer was cited for allegedly promising to perform a sex act for money, while 12 others were cited for failure to have an entertainer’s license, officers said.

In a separate lawsuit filed the day before the Thursday night sting, club owner Kamal Keshmiri challenged a city ordinance that allows police to enter private businesses without a warrant.

The Reno city attorney’s office said it had not received the suits and could not comment.

But police Sgt. Dave Evans defended detectives, saying they were “just doing their job.”

“I want to reiterate we acted professionally and had the legal authority to be there,” Evans told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “There is nothing more to the story.”

In the dancers’ complaint, one dancer claims male detectives gawked at her nude body, refused to let her leave after she presented her license and made her remove a tampon in front of them.

Chena Moore, who goes by the stage name “Tawny,” said she was trying to dress in the locker room after she showed detectives her license. But she said they leered at her while she wore only a G-string, and they would not let her go to the bathroom to remove the tampon.

Tandra Wescott, 24, said she was detained for no reason, then a detective grabbed her arm and threw her out of the club. The mother of two said she walked home in the cold because the officer would not let her call for a ride.

Keshmiri claimed police and city officials are trying to run the club out of business.

“They are spending tax dollars to go after entertainers’ licenses and at the same time they don’t make it easy for them to get the licenses,” the owner said.

Keshmiri said the city recently made it more difficult for dancers to get the licenses by raising license fees, no longer issuing temporary licenses and making them wait 60 days for a background check.

Evans said detectives announced their presence and could not help it if the women decided to undress in front of them. Because the club has a privileged business license, Evans said, police are allowed to enter the club to make sure all laws are being followed.

“The business license issue is black and white. You either have one or you don’t,” he said.

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