COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Politics did not play a role in the arrest of porn actress Stormy Daniels, according to the head of the police union in Ohio’s capital city where Daniels was briefly charged with interacting too closely with patrons who turned out to be undercover police officers.
Officers applied an illegal sexual contact law indiscriminately at Sirens night club during a performance, arresting two other women in addition to Daniels, said Jason Pappas, head of the FOP Capital City Lodge #9.
“The suggestion that this is politically motivated is absolutely untrue,” Pappas said Friday.
Prosecutors on Thursday dropped charges against the porn star hours after she was accused of illegally rubbing undercover police officers’ faces against her bare breasts during her performance.
The 39-year-old adult film star, who claims to have had sex with Donald Trump before he became president, was charged with three misdemeanors.
Daniels’ lawyer called for an investigation into the arrest, saying some of the officers had what appeared to be “very Pro-Trump” social media pages. The lawyer, Michael Avenatti, tweeted screenshots from what he claimed was the Facebook page of one officer with a pseudonym and asked people to help confirm it.
Daniels was “set up” in a Columbus police sting operation, Avenatti said, calling it an “absurd use of law enforcement resources.”
Pappas rejected that claim, noting the undercover vice team included black and female officers carrying out their responsibility to enforce laws covering strip clubs. He couldn’t confirm the allegation about the officer’s pro-Trump page.
“Every officer goes out there every day and enforces the law, not their personal political opinions,” Pappas said.
Thursday 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.
Columbus police chief Kim Jacobs said “one element of the law was missed in error.” She said the officers’ motivations will be reviewed internally.
The cases of the two other women arrested are being reviewed, according to the city prosecutor’s office.
Daniels considered reappearing at Sirens but later opted for a different club Thursday night, Vanity Gentlemen’s Club. She performed there for about 20 minutes, baring her breasts but not physically interacting with any patrons. A host had announced: “No phones, no photography, no touching!”
About 100 patrons were in the club and threw dollar bills on her as she performed, partly covering the stage.
Police said Daniels’ arrest was part of a long-term human trafficking investigation of adult clubs. Franklin County Municipal Court records show 23 similar cases this year, including the charges against Daniels, 14 last year and six the year before.
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 suing to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement.
Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles and Catherine Lucey in Washington contributed to this report.