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Posted: July 18, 2018

Charges against strippers arrested with Stormy Daniels dropped, report says


By Cox Media Group National Content Desk

COLUMBUS, Ohio —

Update 5:30 EDT July 18: The charges against the two strippers arrested with adult film star Stormy Daniels last week in Columbus, Ohio, have been dropped, according to BuzzFeed News.

>> Read more trending news 

Brittany Walters and Miranda Panda were taken into custody along with Daniels early last Thursday at the Sirens Gentleman’s Club.

Daniels, who was charged with three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business, was released hours later, but the other two remained jailed on charges related to a 2007 state law that prohibits anyone who isn’t a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude performer, according to The Associated Press.

In Daniels’ case, officials noted in a motion to dismiss the charges that the law applies only to regular performers.

Police said at the time that the arrests of Daniels, Walters and Panda were  "part of a long-term investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution, along with other vice-related violations,” but a Columbus judge, in dismissing the charges against Daniels, said her arrest was a “mistake.”

>> Related: Who is Stormy Daniels, the woman who claims to have had an affair with President Trump?

The charges against Walters and Panda were dropped Wednesday because the facts of the case "do not meet the elements required to prosecute under this law," Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said in a statement.

(Original story)

Prosecutors dropped charges against adult film star Stormy Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford, after she was arrested early Thursday on accusations of inappropriate touching while performing at a strip club in Columbus.

Franklin County Sheriff's Office
Stormy Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, was arrested at a strip club in Columbus, Ohio, on allegations that she touched undercover police officers while performing.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 7:30 p.m. EDT July 12: Stormy Daniels has changed her plans and won’t return for an encore performance at a strip club in Columbus where she was arrested early Thursday.

Her lawyer Michael Avenatti says the adult performer is looking for another club in the area where she can perform.

 

Daniels was arrested early Thursday on charges she let customers at the Sirens Gentleman’s Club touch her inappropriately, which is against the law in Ohio at an adult club. 

Update 7:00 p.m. EDT July 12: The show must go on. Stormy Daniels is returning to the Sirens Gentleman’s Club in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday night for a follow-up show.

The adult film star was arrested after a performance at the club early Thursday on three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexual oriented activity. The charges were later dropped.

“I'll be going onstage tonight at Sirens in Columbus to perform for my fans and register voters as planned. Can't stop the storm,” Daniels tweeted Thursday afternoon. 

She also said she’ll donate her tips from Thursday night’s performance to two other dancers who were also arrested, but are still facing charges in the case.

 

Update 3:10 p.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told The Associated Press that his client was “traumatized and rattled” after her arrest. He earlier told MSNBC that female undercover police officers asked if they could put their faces between Daniels’ breasts while she was performing on-stage at Sirens Gentleman’s Club in Columbus.

Avenatti told the AP that Daniels was in her tour bus after Wednesday night’s performance when officers knocked on her door. She was arrested on three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business, but the charges were later dropped after prosecutors determined she was working as a guest at the club and not a regular performer. State law prohibits anyone who isn't a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude regular dancer at adult establishments, according to The Associated Press.

Update 1:30 p.m. EDT July 12: Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein confirmed in a statement Thursday that charges have been dismissed against Daniels following her arrest at Sirens Gentleman’s Club.

Daniels was arrested on three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business. Two other performers, identified by police as Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters, were also arrested.

“I’ve determined that these crimes were not committed, based on the fact that Ms. Clifford has not made regular appearances at this establishment as required under the law,” Klein said. “We’ll do the same inquiry for the other defendants involved, as well.”

   

Update 12:55 p.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney confirmed Thursday afternoon that charges were dropped against his client.

 

Police arrested Daniels early Thursday while she was appearing at Sirens Gentleman's Club in Columbus. She was arrested after she inappropriately touched undercover officers who were at the strip club as part of a long-term sting operation unrelated to Daniels, according to police. She was charged with three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business.

The charges were based on a 2007 Ohio law that prohibits anyone who isn't a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude dancer, according to The Associated Press. However, officials noted in a motion to dismiss the case that the law applies only to regular performers

"In this case, there has been no evidence provided to the State that Defendant appears or has appeared regularly at Sirens," Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein wrote in the state's motion to dismiss.

Daniels was scheduled to appear twice at Sirens, on Wednesday and Thursday night. However, Avenatti announced her second scheduled appearance had been canceled in light of her arrest.

Update 11:10 a.m. EDT July 12: The state law used early Thursday to justify the arrest of Daniels and two other performers at Sirens, a strip club in Columbus, has been used 88 times in Franklin County since 2008, WCMH reported.

 

The 2007 law was introduced by a conservative religious group and bars dancers from touching customers and vice versa, save for immediate family members, The Associated Press reported. Police said Daniels was charged with three counts of illegal sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business as part of a long-term investigation of alleged human trafficking and prostitution in Columbus.

A spokeswoman for Columbus’ city attorney told the AP that the charges carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine per count, should Daniels be convicted.

Update 10:45 a.m. EDT July 12: Police said they arrested Daniels and two other performers early Thursday at Sirens in Columbus "as part of a long-term investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution, along with other vice related violations."

 

In a news release Thursday, officials said Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford, was arrested along with Miranda Panda, of Marion, Ohio, and Brittany Walters, of Pickering, Ohio.

 

Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said she will plead not guilty to three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business. In an appearance Thursday morning on MSNBC, Avenatti characterized his client’s arrest as being part of a “sting operation.”

 

Update 10 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told MSNBC on Thursday that female undercover officers asked his client to allow them to put their faces between her breasts before her arrest in Columbus early on Thursday.

“Unbeknownst to her, the police had set up a sting operation in the strip club with multiple officers,” Avenatti said. “I think it’s an absurd use of law enforcement resources.”

Update 7:38 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels issued a statement saying her Thursday performance in Columbus has been canceled.

 

>> On MyAJC.com: Stormy Daniels headed to Atlanta in July

Meanwhile, WSYX’s Mike McCarthy tweeted that police also arrested two other performers on illegal touching charges at the Sirens strip club overnight.

 

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Status of Stormy Daniels’ Dayton, Ohio-area appearance unclear after Columbus arrest

Update 6:52 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted that his client will plead “not guilty” to the charges.

 

Update 6:41 a.m. EDT July 12: WSYX’s Mike McCarthy reports that Daniels was released from jail on $6,000 bond. 

 

WCMH reporter Matt Edwards tweeted that “Daniels was picked up minutes ago by a sedan with WV plates.”

 

Update 6:03 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH reporter Hattie Hawks tweeted that Daniels’ “bond has been posted by Denver Nicks.”

 

Update 5:49 a.m. EDT July 12: The charging documents reveal more information about the allegations against Daniels. 

>> See an image of the complaint here (WARNING: Discretion advised.)

 

Update 5:16 a.m. EDT July 12: WSYX’s Mike McCarthy tweeted that Daniels “is accused of touching three @ColumbusPolice officers during her appearance at #Sirens.”

 

According to WBNS, Daniels fondled patrons and undercover officers, police said. 

Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told WBNS that his client’s arrest “was politically motivated.”

He added: “There's no question these officers were undercover at that strip club. They knew my client would be performing there, and I find this to be a complete waste of resources.”

WBNS reporter Tino Ramos also shared a video of Daniels walking into the Jackson Pike Correctional Facility.

 

Update 4:33 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH’s Matt Edwards just tweeted a photo that appears to show officers leading Daniels into the jail.

 

Update 4:22 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH is reporting that Daniels’ arraignment is scheduled for Friday morning at Franklin County Municipal Court.

Daniels is being charged with “illegally sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business,” a first-degree misdemeanor, according to WCMH’s Olivia Fecteau.

 

Meanwhile, comedian Kathy Griffin took to Twitter to call out Columbus area law enforcement.

Update 3:28 a.m. EDT July 12: According to WCMH reporter Olivia Fecteau, Daniels “has not yet been booked into jail.” Jail workers said Daniels will be booked at the Franklin County Correctional Facility II on Jackson Pike, Fecteau tweeted.

 

Update 2:52 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels was performing at a club called Sirens when she was arrested, WCMH reporter Olivia Fecteau tweeted early Thursday. When Fecteau called the club, the person on the line declined to comment, she said.

 

According to Fecteau, “Ohio Revised Code 2907.40 outlines charges against either a patron who touches an employee (or vice versa) who is nude or semi-nude. Depending on what happened, the charge can be a first- or fourth-degree misdemeanor.”

 

Original report: Porn star Stormy Daniels has been arrested in Columbus, Ohio, her attorney tweeted early Thursday.

 

“Just rcvd word that my client @StormyDaniels was arrested in Columbus Ohio [while] performing the same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred strip clubs,” wrote Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer. “This was a setup & politically motivated. It reeks of desperation. We will fight all bogus charges. #Basta.”

>> Trump acknowledges he reimbursed Cohen, lawyer who paid Stormy Daniels

In a second tweet, he added: “She was arrested for allegedly allowing a customer to touch her while on stage in a non sexual manner! Are you kidding me? They are devoting law enforcement resources to sting operations for this? There has to be higher priorities!!! #SetUp #Basta.”

 

>> Stormy Daniels Day: West Hollywood honors adult film star with key to city

He continued: “We expect her to be released on bail shortly. We also expect that she will be charged with a misdemeanor for allowing ‘touching.’ We will vehemently contest all charges. #Basta.”

 

>> Read more trending news 

Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, claims that she had sex with Donald Trump in 2006, more than a decade before he became president. Daniels is now suing Trump and his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement that she signed days before the 2016 presidential election. Cohen reportedly paid her $130,000 after she signed the agreement.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Related

Mary Altaffer/AP

Stormy Daniels sues Trump for defamation

Mary Altaffer/AP

Stormy Daniels sues Trump for defamation

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, left, stands with her lawyer Michael Avenatti as she speaks outside federal court, Monday, April 16, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Stormy Daniels Day: West Hollywood honors adult film star with key to city

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Stormy Daniels Day: West Hollywood honors adult film star with key to city

The city of West Hollywood, California, proclaimed May 23 Stormy Daniels Day and honored the adult film star with a key to the city.

>> Read more trending news 

The city said in a Twitter announcement that it’s honoring Daniels for her leadership in the #Resist movement.

“In these politically tumultuous times, Daniels has proven herself to be a profile in courage by speaking truth to power, even under threats to her safety and extreme intimidation,” the statement said.

>> Related: Porn star Stormy Daniels sues Trump over hush agreement, says it’s void, reports say

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has been embroiled in a lawsuit she filed against President Donald Trump last year in California state court, claiming a “hush agreement” she signed over their alleged affair a decade ago is null and void.

>> Related: Trump confirms Cohen represented him in 'crazy Stormy Daniels deal'

She was paid $130,000 by Trump attorney Michael Cohen shortly before the 2016 presidential election in exchange for keeping silent about the alleged affair with Trump. But Daniels’ attorney argued the agreement was no good because Trump never signed it.

Cohen has admitted using his own money to pay off Daniels and, while records have revealed Trump made payments to Cohen, the president has denied any involvement with the porn star.

Daniels has said she wants to tell her story, like other women who have had alleged encounters with the president, but the hush agreement prevents her from legally doing that.

>> Related: Trump acknowledges he reimbursed Cohen, lawyer who paid Stormy Daniels

Trump acknowledges he reimbursed Cohen, lawyer who paid Stormy Daniels

President Donald Trump disclosed reimbursement payment last year of more than $100,000 to his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in financial documents released Wednesday.

The disclosure, released Wednesday by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, did not elaborate on what the money was for, beyond expenses. However, the payment was made for work Cohen did in 2016, the same year the attorney paid adult film star $130,000 in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump years earlier.

>> Read more trending news

"In 2016, expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump's attorneys, Michael Cohen," a footnote on page 45 of the 92-page disclosure document reads. "Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017.”

>> Giuliani: President reimbursed Cohen for $130K Stormy Daniels payment

The documents show Trump paid Cohen between $100,001 and $250,000. Daniels, who was born Stephanie Clifford, was paid $130,000 by Cohen after she signed a nondisclosure agreement barring her from talking about her alleged affair with the future president.

She has since sued to break the agreement, claiming that it is invalid because it was never signed by Trump.

>> Stormy Daniels sues Trump for defamation

Former New York Mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told Fox News earlier this month that the president reimbursed Cohen for the payment, but he insisted that the funds did not come from the campaign. Critics have questioned whether the payment could be considered an illegal in-kind campaign contribution.

>> WATCH: Stormy Daniels makes surprise appearance in 'SNL' cold open

The president acknowledged for the first time last month that Cohen represented him “with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal” after weeks of telling reporters that he had no knowledge of the payment to the adult film actress.

“Michael would represent me … on some things,” Trump told “Fox and Friends” in April. “He represents me — like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me.”

Cohen filed notice last month that he would not answer questions in Daniels' case seeking to end the nondisclosure agreement, exercising his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

 

Stormy Daniels sues Trump for defamation

Adult film star Stormy Daniels sued President Donald Trump on Monday, claiming he defamed her earlier this month in a post he made on Twitter.

>> Read more trending news

The suit was filed nearly two weeks after Daniels, who was born Stephanie Clifford, and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, appeared on ABC’s “The View” talk show. During the appearance, they shared a sketch of a man Daniels said threatened her in 2011 after she attempted to sell a magazine a story about her relationship with Trump.

>> Related: Stormy Daniels releases sketch of man who allegedly threatened her

Trump shared the sketch in a tweet on April 18, writing that it showed “a nonexistent man.” He shared the image from a Twitter user that put the sketch next to a photo of Daniels and her husband, adult film star, Brendon Miller.

“Mr. Trump’s statement is false and defamatory,” the complaint filed Monday said, referencing Trump’s April 18 tweet. “Mr. Trump used his national and international audience of millions of people … to denigrate and attack Ms. Clifford. Mr. Trump knew that his false, disparaging statement would be read by people around the world, as well as widely reported, and that Ms. Clifford would be subjected to threats of violence, economic harm and reputational damage as a result.”

Daniels said last month on “60 Minutes” that she was threatened by the man, who has not been identified, a few weeks after a magazine declined to run her story about Trump. The magazine initially agreed to pay her $15,000 for the story, but dropped it after Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, threatened to sue, Daniels said.

>> Related: Stormy Daniels: Complete interview transcript

She said the man approached her while she was in a parking lot with her infant daughter, getting ready to go to a fitness class.

“A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,’” Daniels said on “60 Minutes.” “Then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.”

Avenatti has offered a $100,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to the identification of the man.

“We want to get to the bottom of who this is,” Avenatti said on “The View.” “We think we know who sent him.”

Daniels has said that she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, after she met him at a celebrity golf tournament. Cohen paid her $130,000 days before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence on the alleged affair. Trump has denied any knowledge of the payment. Daniels has sued to break the non-disclosure agreement, claiming it wasn’t valid because it wasn’t signed by Trump.

Trump confirms Cohen represented him in 'crazy Stormy Daniels deal'

AP

Trump confirms Cohen represented him in 'crazy Stormy Daniels deal'

President Donald Trump on Thursday said attorney Michael Cohen represented him “with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal” weeks after he told reporters that he had no knowledge of a $130,000 payment paid to the adult film star by Cohen.

>> Read more trending news

During a phone interview on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said Cohen did “a percentage of my overall legal work -- a tiny, tiny fraction.”

“Michael would represent me … on some things,” Trump said. “He represents me — like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me.”

Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, called the admission “another gift from the heavens in this case” in an interview on MSNBC.

“It’s a hugely damaging admission by the president because according to what he said on Air Force One a few weeks ago, he didn’t know anything about the agreement, he didn’t know anything about the payment, Michael Cohen went off and did this on a lark and Mr. Trump knew nothing about it,” Avenatti said. “He tripped himself up.”

Cohen negotiated a $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016 in exchange for her signing a nondisclosure agreement barring her from talking about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported in January.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One earlier this month that he was unaware of the payment or where the money had come from.

Avenatti told CNN Thursday that Trump’s most recent comments would only bolster his efforts to force Trump and Cohen to testify under oath about their knowledge of the payment to Daniels.

>> Related: Trump says he didn't know about Stormy Daniels payment

“It’s going to add considerable momentum to our efforts to depose the president and put him under oath, because now we have two contrary statements in less than a month,” Avenatti said.

Daniels, who was born Stephanie Clifford, is suing to break the nondisclosure agreement, claiming the document is invalid because it was never signed by Trump.

Cohen filed notice Wednesday that he would not answer questions in the Daniels case, exercising his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

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