Washington (AFP) – Charges against Stormy Daniels following an Ohio strip club arrest were dropped Thursday after her lawyer slammed a “politically motivated” setup against the adult film star suing US President Donald Trump.
Daniels, 39, was apprehended without incident during a performance late Wednesday at the Sirens club in Columbus, Ohio after officers accused her of knowingly touching patrons “in a specified anatomical area.”
Police approached Daniels, who was topless and wearing a G-string, after she was seen “using her bare breasts to smack the patrons” and “fondling the breasts of the female patrons,” according to an incident report published online by a local news outlet.
Daniels allegedly held her breasts against one female detective’s face, before “forcing” the face of a male officer into her chest and “smacking his face with her bare breasts.”
She performed the same acts on a male officer after “fondling” his buttock and chest.
Ohio law prohibits employees who regularly appear “nude or semi-nude on the premises of a sexually oriented business” from being touched by or touching club-goers, unless they are members of the dancer’s immediate family.
Another officer in the back of the venue went to get backup before arresting Daniels, who was released on bond.
Her lawyer Michael Avenatti later announced that the charges had been “dismissed in their entirety and thanked prosecutors for their “professionalism” in a tweet.
The state of Ohio moved to dismiss the case because it did “not have probable cause to proceed on any of the three charges set forth in the complaints,” according to scanned court documents that Avenatti posted to social media.
The court papers said “no evidence” was provided that Daniels “appears or has appeared regularly at Sirens.”
Avenatti charged earlier that “undercover” officers “asked” for the touching.
“Unbeknownst to her the police set up a sting operation within the strip club,” he told MSNBC.
– ‘Absurd’ –
“During her performance, they asked her if they could place their face in between her breasts while she was performing on stage,” he said.
“And she said yes.”
Avenatti called the three misdemeanor charges “an absurd use of law enforcement resources.”
A follow-up Daniels performance at the same club scheduled for Thursday has been cancelled. “I deeply apologize to my fans in Columbus,” Daniels said in a statement posted by Avenatti.
Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, is suing Trump and his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to nullify a 2016 non-disclosure agreement preventing her from speaking out about an alleged affair she says she had with Trump in 2006.
Cohen paid Daniels $130,000, just days before the 2016 election, in exchange for her silence.
She wants the non-disclosure agreement thrown out on the grounds that it is not valid because Trump never signed it.
Asked if Daniels’ arrest could impact her legal wrangling with Cohen, Avenatti said “not at all.”
“We think that the prosecutor is going to be reasonable in how they approach this,” he said. “I think they are going to be diligent and appear to be incredibly professional.”
Through White House officials, Trump has denied the affair with Daniels, although Cohen has admitted paying her $130,000 as part of the agreement.
He initially said he used his own money to pay Daniels and was not reimbursed by Trump.
However, Trump — who initially denied knowledge of the payment — subsequently conceded that Cohen was in fact reimbursed.