Saturday 22 September 2018

Charges against Stormy Daniels dropped as police chief says a 'mistake has been made'

Stormy Daniels: released and charges dropped
Stormy Daniels: released and charges dropped

Catherine Lucey and Michael Balsamo

Prosecutors have dropped charges against Stormy Daniels just hours after the porn actress was arrested at an Ohio strip club.

She was accused of illegally rubbing undercover police officers' faces against her breasts during a performance.

Stormy Daniels was arrested at a Columbus, Ohio strip club (Franklin County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
Stormy Daniels was arrested at a Columbus, Ohio strip club (Franklin County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, 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 President Donald Trump was charged with three misdemeanours, each punishable by up to six months in jail and a 1,000 US dollar (£757) fine. She was released on 6,000 dollar (£4,500) bail.

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.

Stormy Daniels is led into jail in Columbus, Ohio. (WBNS via AP)
Stormy Daniels is led into jail in Columbus, Ohio. (WBNS via AP)

In Ms Daniels' case, it was her first appearance at Sirens in Columbus.

Columbus police chief Kim Jacobs said that "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.

She said the officers' motivations will be reviewed internally. She said unsubstantiated allegations about their motivations were circulating on social media.

Mr Avenatti tweeted that Ms Daniels "refuses to be intimidated" and would "return to the scene of the 'no crime'" to perform again on Thursday night at the club.

Police said Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, smacked the faces of two female officers and one male officer with her 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 Mr Avenatti said left her "traumatised and rattled".

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

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

Police said Ms Daniels' arrest was part of a long-term human trafficking investigation of adult clubs. They said they have made numerous arrests under the no-touching law.

The police department "engages in these operations routinely," said spokesman Sgeant Dean Worthington.

Ms Daniels has said she had sex with Mr Trump in 2006, when he was married. Mr Trump has denied it.

Before the election, she was paid 130,000 dollars (£98,000) to stay silent in a deal handled by Mr Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen. She is now suing to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement.

Read more here:

Stormy strip club arrest 'politically motivated'

Trump’s personal attorney wants Stormy Daniels’ lawyer gagged

Stormy Daniels lacks credibility because she’s porn star, says Trump lawyer

Trump repaid Stormy money to lawyer 

Press Association

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