Charges against Stormy Daniels dropped hours after arrest


By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS - Associated Press



In this frame from video, porn actress Stormy Daniels is led into jail in Columbus, Ohio., after being taken into custody during a Wednesday evening, July 11, 2018, show. Daniels was arrested at a strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday, July 12. (WBNS via AP)

In this frame from video, porn actress Stormy Daniels is led into jail in Columbus, Ohio., after being taken into custody during a Wednesday evening, July 11, 2018, show. Daniels was arrested at a strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday, July 12. (WBNS via AP)


This photo provided by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, July 12, 2018, shows porn actress Stormy Daniels.  Daniels was arrested at a Columbus, Ohio strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday. (Franklin County Sheriff's Office via AP)

This photo provided by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, July 12, 2018, shows porn actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels was arrested at a Columbus, Ohio strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday. (Franklin County Sheriff's Office via AP)


FILE - In this May 23, 2018 file photo, porn actress Stormy Daniels speaks during a ceremony for her receiving a City Proclamation and Key to the City in West Hollywood, Calif. Daniels was arrested at an Ohio strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday, July 12. While Daniels was performing at Sirens, a strip club in Columbus, some patrons touched her in a “non-sexual” way, her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told The Associated Press. An Ohio law known as the Community Defense Act prohibits anyone who isn’t a family member to touch a nude or semi-nude dancer. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Prosecutors dropped charges Thursday against Stormy Daniels just hours after the porn star was arrested and accused of illegally rubbing undercover police officers’ faces against her bare breasts during a performance at an Ohio 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 President Donald Trump was charged with three misdemeanors, each punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. 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.

Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted afterward Daniels “refuses to be intimidated” and would “return to the scene of the ‘no crime’” and perform again Thursday night at the club.

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 Defense 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 Daniels. Prosecutors will decide whether to pursue charges against those women.

Police said 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 but did not immediately provide a number.

The police department “engages in these operations routinely,” said spokesman Sgt. Dean Worthington.

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. Trump has denied it. Before the election, she was paid $130,000 to stay silent in a deal handled by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. She is now suing to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement.

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Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles, Catherine Lucey in Washington, Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati and Bob Lentz in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

In this frame from video, porn actress Stormy Daniels is led into jail in Columbus, Ohio., after being taken into custody during a Wednesday evening, July 11, 2018, show. Daniels was arrested at a strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday, July 12. (WBNS via AP)
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/07/web1_120932800-dca323a4fea44b9b90451aa0649ba619.jpgIn this frame from video, porn actress Stormy Daniels is led into jail in Columbus, Ohio., after being taken into custody during a Wednesday evening, July 11, 2018, show. Daniels was arrested at a strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday, July 12. (WBNS via AP)
This photo provided by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, July 12, 2018, shows porn actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels was arrested at a Columbus, Ohio strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday. (Franklin County Sheriff's Office via AP)
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/07/web1_120932800-f9fce99cfc1e442b8e9f72a5b3288f37.jpgThis photo provided by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, July 12, 2018, shows porn actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels was arrested at a Columbus, Ohio strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday. (Franklin County Sheriff's Office via AP)
FILE - In this May 23, 2018 file photo, porn actress Stormy Daniels speaks during a ceremony for her receiving a City Proclamation and Key to the City in West Hollywood, Calif. Daniels was arrested at an Ohio strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday, July 12. While Daniels was performing at Sirens, a strip club in Columbus, some patrons touched her in a “non-sexual” way, her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told The Associated Press. An Ohio law known as the Community Defense Act prohibits anyone who isn’t a family member to touch a nude or semi-nude dancer. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/07/web1_120932800-6ec019155cb94f878e0c8032ca2297df.jpgFILE - In this May 23, 2018 file photo, porn actress Stormy Daniels speaks during a ceremony for her receiving a City Proclamation and Key to the City in West Hollywood, Calif. Daniels was arrested at an Ohio strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday, July 12. While Daniels was performing at Sirens, a strip club in Columbus, some patrons touched her in a “non-sexual” way, her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told The Associated Press. An Ohio law known as the Community Defense Act prohibits anyone who isn’t a family member to touch a nude or semi-nude dancer. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS

Associated Press

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