Charges against Stormy Daniels dropped

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - AN­DREW WELSH-HUG­GINS

COLUM­BUS, Ohio — Pros­e­cu­tors on Thurs­day dropped charges against porn star Stormy Daniels just hours af­ter she was ar­rested and ac­cused of il­le­gally rub­bing un­der­cover po­lice of­fi­cers’ faces against her bare breasts dur­ing a per­for­mance at a strip club.

Her at­tor­ney said she was “set up” in a Colum­bus po­lice sting op­er­a­tion, calling it an “ab­surd use of law en­force­ment re­sources.” Po­lice said they rou­tinely con­duct such un­der­cover oper­a­tions.

The 39-year-old adult film star, who claims to have had sex with Don­ald Trump be­fore he be­came pres­i­dent, was charged with three mis­de­meanours, each pun­ish­able by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine upon con­vic­tion. She was re­leased on $6,000 bail around day­break Thurs­day.

By early af­ter­noon, pros­e­cu­tors said they were drop­ping the case be­cause Ohio’s law against phys­i­cal con­tact be­tween strip­pers and cus­tomers ap­plies only to some­one who “reg­u­larly” per­forms at a club. In Daniels’ case, it was her first ap­pear­ance at Sirens in Colum­bus.

A per­son who an­swered the phone at Sirens de­clined to com­ment.

Colum­bus po­lice chief Kim Ja­cobs said “one el­e­ment of the law was missed in er­ror.”

“A mis­take was made, and I ac­cept full re­spon­si­bil­ity,” she said.

Of­fi­cers were well within their area of re­spon­si­bil­ity when mak­ing the ar­rests, she added. But she said the of­fi­cers’ mo­ti­va­tions will be re­viewed in­ter­nally. With­out pro­vid­ing de­tails, she said un­sub­stan­ti­ated al­le­ga­tions about their mo­ti­va­tions were cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia.

Daniels’ lawyer called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ar­rest, say­ing some of the of­fi­cers had what ap­peared to be “very Pro-Trump” so­cial me­dia pages. The lawyer, Michael Ave­natti, tweeted screen­shots from what he claimed was the Face­book page of one of­fi­cer with a pseu­do­nym and asked peo­ple to help con­firm it.

Daniels con­sid­ered reap­pear­ing at Sirens but later opted for a dif­fer­ent club, Van­ity Gen­tle­men’s Club, a Thurs­day night per­for­mance con­firmed by man­ager K.J. Ko­pras.

Po­lice said Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clif­ford, smacked the faces of two fe­male of­fi­cers and one male of­fi­cer with her bare breasts dur­ing the Wednes­day night show. Of­fi­cers knocked on the door of her tour bus af­ter the per­for­mance and took her into cus­tody in an ar­rest that Ave­natti said left her “trau­ma­tized and rat­tled.”

She was booked un­der a 10-year-old state law known as the Com­mu­nity De­fence Act, which says dancers at “sex­u­ally ori­ented” busi­nesses are pro­hib­ited from touch­ing cus­tomers and vice versa.

Po­lice said two other dancers were ar­rested along with Daniels. Pros­e­cu­tors will de­cide whether to pur­sue charges against those women.

Po­lice said Daniels’ ar­rest was part of a longterm hu­man traf­fick­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion of adult clubs. They said they have made nu­mer­ous ar­rests un­der the no-touch­ing law but did not im­me­di­ately pro­vide a num­ber.

Daniels has said she had sex with Trump in 2006, when he was mar­ried. Trump has de­nied it. Be­fore the elec­tion, she was paid US$130,000 to stay silent in a deal han­dled by Trump’s per­sonal at­tor­ney Michael Co­hen. She is su­ing to in­val­i­date the nondis­clo­sure agree­ment.

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