Stormy Daniels's Strip Club Arrest Called a Setup by Lawyer
(Bloomberg) -- Adult-film star Stephanie Clifford, whose fame has been multiplied by her lawsuit against U.S. President Donald Trump, was arrested by undercover officers while performing at a strip club in Columbus, Ohio, in an incident her lawyer says was politically motivated.
Michael Avenatti, her attorney, announced the arrest in a tweet Thursday morning. Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, was released on a $6,000 cash bond and will plead not guilty to three misdemeanor charges of allowing “touching,” Avenatti said.
The California lawyer said he and Clifford will "contest all charges." An arraignment is scheduled for Friday morning, though she may not appear in person, according to the attorney.
Under Ohio law, an employee who regularly appears nude or seminude in a sexually oriented business is prohibited from “knowingly” touching a patron who’s not a member of the employee’s immediate family.
Sirens Gentlemen’s Club, where Clifford was arrested, is still advertising an appearance by Stormy Daniels for Thursday night.
"As a result of what happened last night, I will unfortunately be unable to go forward with tonight’s scheduled performance," Clifford said in a statement shared by Avenatti. "I deeply apologize to my fans in Columbus."
Clifford’s arrest came after undercover officers conducted a vice operation at the adult-entertainment facility, according to Avenatti.
"They placed undercover officers in the strip club where they hoped they would be able to arrest my client," Avenatti said in a phone call. "During her performance, a couple female undercover officers asked her if they could place their faces in between her breasts."
Avenatti declined to say exactly what happened next, but after Clifford’s performance she was taken into custody by male officers and it became evident that the two women were also officers, the lawyer said.
The arrest report says four undercover officers entered the club Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. to investigate complaints about prostitution and drugs. Clifford is identified in the report as one of three women who were arrested. According to the report, the majority of the patrons at Sirens rushed to the stage when Clifford started her strip tease and began throwing dollar bills at her.
"During her performance and after removing her top exposing her breasts she began forcing the faces of the patrons into her chest and using her bare breasts to smack the patrons," the report says. "The officers also observed Ms. Clifford fondling the breasts of female patrons."
The undercover officers said in the report that Clifford "grabbed" them one at a time, "forcing" their faces into her chest. It doesn’t indicate that they asked her to do so, as Avenatti says.
Clifford sued Trump and his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to get out of a $130,000 “hush agreement” she signed in October 2016 to keep silent about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump over a decade ago. The case has emerged as one of the most problematic lawsuits of Trump’s presidency, helping trigger a criminal investigation into Cohen’s financial dealings.
No one was answering the phone at the press office for the Columbus Police Department, and the voice mail box was full. Phone calls to Sirens before regular business hours went unanswered.
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