Charges dropped against Stormy Daniels after ‘politically motivated’ arrest at Ohio strip club
Porn star who has sued US president Donald Trump reportedly was ‘using her bare breasts to smack the patrons’
The porn actress Stormy Daniels, who is locked in a court battle with US President Donald Trump over their reported affair, was arrested Wednesday night at an Ohio strip club and accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law.
On Thursday afternoon, however, city prosecutors dropped the charges, saying the Ohio illegal touching law cannot be enforced because Daniels has only appeared once at the Columbus club.
The law, intorduced in 2007 by a conservative religious group, refers to someone “who regularly appears nude or seminude” at a club and has seldom been enforced, The Columbus Dispatch reported last year.
Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said on Thursday that Daniels had been set up in a “politically motivated” sting operation.
While Daniels, 39, was performing on Wednesday night at Sirens, a strip club in Columbus, Avenatti successfully argued Daniels “has not appeared consistently and repeatedly at Sirens”, thus could not be arrested under the law, according to prosecutors.
According to the arrest report, Daniels removed her top and exposed her breasts, “forcing the faces of the patrons into her chest and using her bare breasts to smack the patrons”, as well as fondling the breasts of female patrons, according to the report.
Some patrons did touch her her in a “non-sexual” way, Avenatti said.
He told MSNBC later on Thursday that the police had prepared a sting operation with multiple officers. He said female undercover officers asked Daniels if they could place their face between her breasts.
“It was an absurd use of law enforcement resources,” Avenatti said.
She was arrested for allegedly allowing a customer to touch her while on stage in a non sexual manner! Are you kidding me? They are devoting law enforcement resources to sting operations for this? There has to be higher priorities!!! #SetUp #Basta
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) July 12, 2018
An Ohio law known as the Community Defence Act prohibits anyone who is not a family member to touch a nude or semi-nude dancer.
Daniels had been charged with three misdemeanour counts under the law and had been released on a US$6,000 cash bond on Thursday morning, according to court records.
A spokeswoman for Columbus’ city lawyer said the maximum penalty for conviction under one count is six months in jail and a US$1,000 fine.
Avenatti posted on Twitter a statement by Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, that said she apologised to her fans in Columbus, but she would not perform her previously scheduled Thursday night show.
A Columbus police spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. A person who answered the phone at the strip club declined to comment.
Daniels has said she had sex with Trump in 2006, when he was married, which Trump has denied.
Clifford sued Trump and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to get out of a US$130,000 “hush agreement” she signed in October 2016 to keep silent about the reported encounter.
The case has emerged as one of the most problematic lawsuits of Trump’s presidency, helping trigger a criminal investigation into Cohen’s financial dealings.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg