2 women arrested with Stormy Daniels sue police officers
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two women who were arrested at an Ohio strip club along with porn actress Stormy Daniels sued four Columbus police vice detectives Tuesday, accusing them of retaliating against Daniels for her sex allegations concerning Donald Trump before he became president.
The women also said the officers arrested them to justify a non-existent long-term investigation into prostitution and sex trafficking near the club.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was arrested in July for inappropriately touching a female undercover officer. Club employee Miranda Panda was arrested that night for touching another cocktail waitress and Brittany Walters was arrested for touching an undercover officer while dancing. Charges against all three women were dismissed.
Columbus city attorney Zach Klein said a week after the arrests the law used to arrest and charge the three women with first-degree misdemeanors was “glaringly inequitable” and should not be enforced. Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, said at the time that Daniels’ arrest was politically motivated, a claim denied by a police union official.
Klein issued a statement Tuesday that said his office is reviewing the complaint and will “proceed in a course that’s in the best interest of the city.”
A Columbus deputy police chief in early September announced that routine vice unit operations would be temporarily suspended while detectives provide the division’s command staff with information about how investigations are conducted. Last week, Police Chief Kim Jacobs said she had asked the FBI’s public corruption unit to take over the city’s internal investigation of the unit.
The lawsuit’s claims of political retaliation are based on emails obtained by Ed Hastie, who represents Panda and Walters, in a public records request, a now-deleted Facebook page and the officers’ stated political affiliations. The lawsuit said one of the detectives performed “extensive” research on Daniels before her July 11 appearance at the strip club.
The lawsuit seeks a minimum of $50,000 damages plus attorney fees.