Charges against Trump-linked porn actress Stormy Daniels dropped following arrest

Daniels was arrested in sting at strip club in Ohio

By FAITH KARIMI AND SONIA MOGHE, CNN
WBNS via CNN

(CNN) - Updated at 12:01 p.m.:

Charges against Daniels have been dismissed, her lawyer said.

Original story:

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels was arrested early Thursday at an Ohio strip club for allegedly touching three undercover detectives during her performance in violation of state law.

Daniels, who gained notoriety after suing President Donald Trump following an alleged affair, faces three misdemeanor counts of illegally touching a patron, court records show.

She posted a $6,054 bail and was released Thursday morning, and is due to be arraigned Friday morning, records show.

Daniels will plead not guilty to the three misdemeanor charges, her attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted.

The arrest of Daniels and two others was part of a "long-term investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution, & other vice related violations," Columbus police said in a statement.

'It reeks of desperation,' Avenatti says

Avenatti said his client was taken into custody while performing at a strip club in Columbus.

"She was arrested for allegedly allowing a customer to touch her while on stage in a nonsexual manner! Are you kidding me?" Avenatti tweeted.

"They are devoting law enforcement resources to sting operations for this? There has to be higher priorities."

Under an Ohio law passed in 2007, an employee who regularly appears nude or seminude is prohibited from touching patrons on the premises of a sexually oriented business -- unless it's a family member.

Columbus police said they have made numerous arrests based on this law since last fall when authorities "were made aware" of illegal activity at adult entertainment clubs in the city.

Avenatti said Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, was arrested while "performing the same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred strip clubs."

"This was a setup & politically motivated. It reeks of desperation," his tweet said. "We will fight all bogus charges."

Documents accuse her of fondling patrons

In a probable cause affidavit obtained by CNN affiliate WSYX, detectives who were at the Sirens Gentlemen's Club said they observed Daniels remove her top and force patrons' faces into her chest.

"The officers also observed Ms. Clifford fondling the breasts of female patrons," Franklin County Municipal Court records show.

When officers witnessed those activities, three detectives approached the stage. Daniels allegedly made her way toward two detectives, leaned over and grabbed their faces. She shoved each of their faces between her breasts, court documents said.

She fondled a third officer's buttocks and breasts, according to the documents, and then forced the officer's head between her breasts and smacked the officer's face with her breasts.

Daniels, Miranda Panda of Marion, Ohio, and Brittany Walters of Pickerington, Ohio, were each charged in the undercover operation.

The Sirens Gentlemen's Club had posted on its website that Daniels was scheduled to perform there Wednesday and Thursday. A person who answered the phone at the club declined to comment. Avenatti tweeted that his client would not perform at the club Thursday night.

Daniels made headlines worldwide over revelations of an alleged affair with Trump in 2006 -- and for the $130,000 she said she received from his attorney in 2016 in exchange for her silence. The White House has said Trump denies an affair happened.

She is suing Trump and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to be released from a nondisclosure agreement that she says she signed days before the 2016 presidential election to prevent her from publicly discussing the alleged affair.

Avenatti alleges the payment was a violation of campaign finance law and was designed to suppress speech. Trump has said he personally reimbursed Cohen for that payment.

Copyright 2018 by CNN NewSource. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.