(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Five Ohio police officers — including a commander, a lieutenant, a sergeant and two arresting officers — have been departmentally charged in connection with the arrest of porn star Stormy Daniels and two other women at a Columbus strip club last year.
Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — was arrested by vice unit officers at the Sirens Gentleman’s Club on July 11, 2018, along with fellow strippers Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters, on suspicion of sexually touching a patron while onstage, police said at the time.
The three women were charged with inappropriately touching and inappropriate acts with customers, some of whom were undercover Columbus police officers.
However, the criminal charges were dropped not long after the arrests when an internal investigation of more than 11,000 emails and over 30 hours of video determined that they were improperly arrested, according to Columbus ABC affiliate WSYX-TV.
Police Chief Tom Quinlan said he made the decision to departmentally charge the five officers because they violated the Columbus Division of Police rules of conduct.
“From initially reviewing the facts surrounding Stormy’s arrest, it was evident she was clearly targeted for a high-profile arrest here,” Chase Mallory, an attorney for Stormy Daniels, told WSYX-TV. “So we are not surprised at all. I am surprised it took this long to seek discipline. But, nonetheless, we are happy that they are.”
Daniels filed a federal civil lawsuit against the Ohio officers involved in her strip club arrest in January, alleging they were pro-Donald Trump and that they arrested her purely for political reasons based on allegations she made of an affair with Trump before he ran for president in 2016.
She is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages and more than $1 million in punitive damages from the Columbus Police Department.
The five police officers could now face a range of disciplinary options, including a reprimand, suspension, demotion or termination. However, due to pending litigation and a federal criminal investigation into the now-disbanded vice unit, the Columbus Police said it will not be releasing any more information on the case.
The Columbus Division of Police said in a statement that, in spite of the recent developments surrounding the five officers, this is “not reflective of the good work the overwhelming majority of officers and supervisors do every day.”
Daniels’ celebrity rose in the wake of the 2016 presidential election when it came out that Trump’s then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, negotiated a hush money payment with Daniels for $130,000 in the weeks prior to Election Day.
The strip club appearance in Columbus was part of a nationwide tour marketed off the affair she said she had with the president in 2006.
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