Thursday, July 19, 2018

Police say they made an 'error' in arresting Stormy Daniels

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

A person who answered the phone at Sirens declined to comment.

Columbus police chief Kim Jacobs said "one element of the law was missed in error."

"A mistake was made, and I accept full responsibility," she said.

Officers were well within their area of responsibility when making the arrests, she added. But she said the officers' motivations will be reviewed internally. Without providing details, she said unsubstantiated allegations about their motivations were circulating on social media.

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 considered reappearing at Sirens but later opted for a different club, Vanity Gentlemen's Club. She performed there for about 20 minutes early Friday, 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, 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, which 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," spokesman Sgt. Dean Worthington said.

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, Catherine Lucey in Washington, Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati and Bob Lentz in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

Comments
Rick Scott pours $14 million of personal fortune into Senate campaign

Rick Scott pours $14 million of personal fortune into Senate campaign

WASHINGTON – Gov. Rick Scott has already put $14 million of his own money into his U.S. Senate campaign, his first FEC report revealed on Thursday.Scott's ability to self-fund was crucial to his two successful gubernatorial campaigns ̵...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
OSHA has open inspection into Clearwater company MagneGas

OSHA has open inspection into Clearwater company MagneGas

CLEARWATER — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an open inspection into a safety-related incident involving Clearwater-based MagneGas Corp. A federal investigator opened the inquiry into the publicly-traded alternative fuel...
Updated: 20 minutes ago

EPA told to avoid another Flint

The Environmental Protection Agency must strengthen its oversight of state drinking water programs to avoid a repeat of what happened in Flint, Michigan, where a slow federal reaction meant residents were exposed to lead-tainted water for far took lo...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week.The "Proper Anthem Conduct" section is just one sentence in a nine-page discipline document provid...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Seminole’s Brittany Lincicome shoots 78 in PGA Tour debut

Seminole’s Brittany Lincicome shoots 78 in PGA Tour debut

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. — Seminole native Brittany Lincicome shot a 6-over 78 in the first round of the Barbasol Championship, leaving the LPGA Tour pro's goal of making the cut likely out of reach.Lincicome was hoping to become the second woman to ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pinellas County Commission will interview four candidates for county administrator

Pinellas County Commission will interview four candidates for county administrator

Pinellas County commissioners have selected four candidates to interview next month to be the next county administrator.There is a good chance that Mark Woodard's successor could come from another state. Top-ranked pick Barry Burton is the county adm...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Buckhorn’s last budget: No frills, no tax increase

Buckhorn’s last budget: No frills, no tax increase

For much of his nearly 80-minute budget presentation on Thursday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn strolled down memory lane.He talked about the long path the city has taken to climb out of the hole it was lodged in when he entered office during the depths o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Dive outing among friends turns deadly Wednesday evening in Weeki Wachee

Dive outing among friends turns deadly Wednesday evening in Weeki Wachee

WEEKI WACHEEIt was the first time Said Marjane and his friends had gone free diving near the Eagle’s Nest, in a pool of water in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area in Weeki Wachee better known as the entrance to a dangerous cave-diving site....
Updated: 1 hour ago
SoundBytes: The Struts, After the Burial, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and more

SoundBytes: The Struts, After the Burial, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and more

— Glam-rockers the Struts, most recently seen locally opening for the Foo Fighters at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, have announced a much more intimate show on Oct. 14 at the Orpheum. Spirit Animal opens. Tickets go on sale Friday. ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Chickens remain free to range in Ybor

Chickens remain free to range in Ybor

TAMPA — Ybor City chickens have escaped the political chopping block — again.The Tampa City Council on Thursday declined to do anything about a wild flock of poultry that drew a loud, strong throng of supporters to City Hall to ask council members no...
Updated: 1 hour ago