Sex worker’s criminal case wiped clean. Her co-defendant, a cop, fighting charge

Alicia Stapleton had prostitution charges dismissed Thursday in Fresno Superior Court.
Alicia Stapleton had prostitution charges dismissed Thursday in Fresno Superior Court. Twitter

Criminal charges were dismissed Thursday against a Clovis woman, a former Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel worker, who was arrested in 2015 on a charge of engaging in prostitution at the request of her boyfriend, former Fresno police officer Robert Knight.

In September, Alicia Stapleton, 32, of Clovis, pleaded no contest in Fresno County Superior Court to a misdemeanor charge of engaging in prostitution.

She learned there are better ways of making a living.

Fresno attorney Linden Lindahl

Under a plea agreement, Judge Ralph Nunez on Thursday dismissed the charge after Stapleton showed proof that she completed a diversion program and had stayed out of trouble, said her attorney, Linden Lindahl.

“She learned there are better ways of making a living,” Lindahl said after the hearing.

Lindahl also said Stapleton learned that not all employment offers are good. “She learned that you have to take them with a grain of salt, even from people in a position of trust,” he said.

Stapleton no longer dates Knight or is employed as a prostitute at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada. She has a legitimate job as an secretary or administrative assistant, Lindahl said.

Because she was charged with a misdemeanor, Stapleton did not have to attended Thursday’s hearing.

Knight, 45, has yet to resolve his case. He is scheduled to stand trial on Feb. 27 on a misdemeanor charge of supervising or aiding a prostitute. A criminal complaint accuses him of unlawfully directing or recruiting Stapleton into prostitution.

Stapleton worked at Moonlite Bunny Ranch near Carson City, Nevada, one of one of several locations in Nevada where prostitution is legal.

Co-defendant Robert Knight, who spent 17 years in law enforcement, is scheduled to be tried in February.

Police say Knight, who spent 17 years in law enforcement, was a patrol officer in the Southwest Policing District. Court records say he resigned on July 13, 2015 after he had several conversations with an undercover Fresno police detective. In the conversations, Knight allegedly helped Stapleton prostitute herself on Craigslist, police said.

Stapleton was arrested July 9, 2015, after she met with an undercover police detective and agreed to a sex act for money.

A search warrant, authored by vice Detective David Fries, chronicles conversations between Knight and an undercover detective through email and Twitter direct messages. It also said Stapleton split time between the Moonlite Bunny Ranch and Knight’s home in Fresno.

The warrant indicated there was a picture of Stapleton wearing revealing clothing in a sexually suggestive pose that was used as part of the solicitation on Craigslist. The photo was allegedly taken in Knight’s bathroom and found with several other nude photos during a search of his phone.

In conversations with the undercover detective, Knight allegedly went into graphic detail about which sex acts Stapleton would be willing to commit and included nude photos of her, the warrant says. He also discussed the rules of meeting with Stapleton and her rate of $100 per hour, the warrant says.

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts