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Louisiana brings stripper’s death into suit over age limit law

Lawyers for the state want a federal court to review a Louisiana police report on the 2015 death of a 19-year-old stripper. But a judge rejected their arguments Thursday.

It’s the latest development in a lawsuit filed by three dancers who are fighting a new state law making 21 the minimum age for strippers in Louisiana.

State lawyers say the police report on the death of Bourbon Street dancer Jasilas Wright could bolster their argument for the law. They note allegations that Wright also was a prostitute whose suspected killer was also suspected of being her pimp.

Protecting young women from human trafficking is a stated aim of the law, which was passed last summer.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby declined to make state police turn over a report on the still-open investigation.

Lawyers defending the law argued that the state should subpoena a state police report on Wright’s death, and that the judge could review it without making it public.

Roby’s ruling raised doubts about the report’s relevance, saying there is no evidence Wright’s death was central to Legislative debate on the age limit. It also said a private review of the report would deny attorneys for the dancers a chance to challenge its admissibility.

Wright’s body was found on Interstate 10 in the New Orleans area in the summer of 2015. A 25-year-old man is being held in the case on a second-degree murder charge in Jefferson Parish.

Three dancers, ages 18, 19 and 20, are challenging the age limit law. They say it violates their right to free expression and discriminates based on age and gender. They also say young women who lose their jobs and income because of the law might be drawn into prostitution.

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