KARMA ALLEN, MORGAN WINSOR and JULIA JACOBO
Charges dropped against adult film star Stormy Daniels after strip club arrest originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
Authorities dropped the charges against adult film star Stormy Daniels Thursday after she was taken into custody during a performance at a strip club in Ohio, which her lawyer called a “politically motivated” setup.
Daniels, who made headlines earlier this year over her claims of an alleged affair with President Donald Trump, was arrested Wednesday night while performing at the Sirens Gentlemen’s Club in Columbus after she allegedly allowed “a customer to touch her while on stage,” her attorney, Michael Avenatti, said via Twitter early Thursday morning.
“Just [received] word that my client @StormyDaniels was arrested in Columbus, Ohio [while] performing the same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred strip clubs,” Avenatti tweeted. “This was a setup [and] politically motivated. It reeks of desperation. We will fight all bogus charges.”
ABC News reached out to Avenatti, who declined to elaborate beyond his tweets.
Daniels was charged with three violations of illegal sexual orientation activity in a sexually oriented business. Those charges were dropped Thursday afternoon, according to court documents.
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, had allegedly touched some of the patrons’ breasts and allowed them to touch her, according to court documents obtained by ABC Columbus affiliate WSYX-TV. She had allegedly performed the same act with several officers who approached the stage and forced one officer’s head into her bare chest.
Columbus police arrested Daniels, 39, along with two other dancers at the club.
Daniels, who was semi-nude during the performance, was initially charged with three misdemeanor counts of knowingly touching a patron at a “sexually oriented business,” according to the court documents. Ohio law prohibits anyone who “regularly appears nude or semi-nude on the premises of a sexually oriented business” to “knowingly touch” a patron or another employee who is not a member of their immediate family, nor the clothing of that individual, while on the premises of that establishment — and vice versa.
Columbus Police Chief Kimberley Jacobs said in a statement that the vice personnel working when Daniels was arrested “believed they had probable cause that state law regulating sexually-oriented business was violated.”
The Columbus Division of Police vice personnel are responsible for enforcing laws regulating alcohol sales, after-hours clubs, massage parlors, human trafficking, nuisance properties and other “serious violations of law,” according to the police department.
“However, one element of the law was missed in error and charges were subsequently dismissed,” Jacobs said. “…a mistake was made, and I accept full responsibility.”
Jacobs said the presence of the Vice officers at the club was reasonable, but the motivations behind their actions will be reviewed internally.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office released a booking photo of Daniels on Thursday morning.
Court records show Daniels was released on bail after an individual named Denver Nicks posted $6,054 bond. She was seen leaving jail Thursday morning.
By Thursday afternoon, a judge in Franklin County Municipal Court had granted a motion to dismiss the charges against her.
“My office has reviewed the charges filed by the Columbus Division of Police, and I’ve determined that these crimes were not committed, based on the fact that Ms. Clifford has not made regular appearances at this establishment as required under the law,” Columbus city attorney Zach Klein said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “We’ll do the same inquiry for the other defendants involved, as well. My office was not involved in this sting operation, so any additional questions about it must be directed to the Columbus Division of Police. The charges have been dismissed.”