You have asked me to address the following; the material facts are not in dispute. Joseph Hurtz is married to five women by right of his sect of Mormonism. In order to keep his hardware store in business, Hurtz took his 5 wives to Nevada so that they could make money as prostitutes. They worked in a licensed brothel in Lyon County. Two days after arriving there, Wanda Dresher-Hurtz was detained by Nevada State Police in relation to a public intoxication incident; Dresher-Hurtz is the youngest of Joseph Hurtz’s wives. In the routine questioning by police officers, Wanda Dresher-Hurtz revealed that she was from Utah, and also that she was in Nevada for the purpose of prostitution. Wanda was later released without charge. The following morning, Joseph Hurtz was contacted by Nevada State Police. In a recorded phone conversation, he admitted that he was from Utah. He also admitted that he did bring all his wives with him into Nevada. However, Hurtz never admitted to coercing his wives into prostitution. Hurtz refused any knowledge of the prostitution of his wives. As a result, you are concerned whether Joseph Hurtz has violated the Mann Act.
Whether the transportation of five wives across state lines by Joseph Hurtz constitutes a violation of the Mann Act?
The Mann Act prohibits the transportation of women across state lines for immoral purposes. In particular, statute 2a reads, “Any man who transports a woman from one state into another shall be subject to the statutes herein.” And, in tandem, statute 3a reads, “A man who crosses into a state shall be subject to the definitions of morality as determined in the courts of that state.” Indeed, in most states, prostitution would be considered an immoral act. However, in the case of Nevada, prostitution is a legal enterprise and a mark of the tourism industry. In Francis v Dark Street Video, 35 F. 2d 28 (3d Cir. 1992), prostitution was affirmed as a legal business and subject to business taxes within the state of Nevada. Therefore, it would appear that prostitution is not immoral according to the state’s standards. This is especially true when considering the case of Masterson v Jameson, 37 F. 2d 38 (2d Cir. 2003), whereby Masterson was found liable for payment for services rendered by a prostitute in a licensed brothel. Truly, in some counties of Nevada, prostitution has been rendered illegal. But this is a local matter, as there are no state laws disallowing prostitution. Hurtz is indeed held accountable for transporting women across state lines for prostitution, as one of his wives admitted. However, when considering these above stated cases, prostitution is not held as an immoral act in the state of Nevada. Accordingly, Hurtz did not violate the Mann Act because he did nothing immoral.
The transportation of five wives by Joseph Hurtz from Utah into Nevada is not a violation of the Mann Act.