Las Vegas Sun

August 23, 2019

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Trial ordered to determine if Strip performer’s rights violated

CARSON CITY — A federal appeals court has ordered a trial to determine if constitutional rights were violated in the arrest of a woman performing as a sexy cop on the Las Vegas Strip.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a District Court jury should decide if Michelle Santopietro should have been arrested in May 2011 with a friend for performing and suggesting people provide a tip if they wanted to take a photo.

Police accused the women of failing to get a county business license and arrested them, according to court records.

The case against Santopietro was dismissed, and she sued Metro Police and three officers, alleging her constitutional rights to free speech, protection against unreasonable search and seizure and equal protection were violated, according to court records.

A District Court judge in Las Vegas issued a pretrial summary judgment in favor of the police, and Santopietro appealed.

The Court of Appeals, however, ruled that local governments may not ban passive or active solicitation of tips for street performances.