Charges against Stormy Daniels, who was arrested on Wednesday at a strip club in Ohio for engaging in physical contact with patrons, have been dropped.
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 adult film actor, who claims she had sex with Donald Trump, was performing at Sirens strip club in Columbus when she was touched in a “non-sexual” way, according to her lawyer, Michael Avenatti.
After the performance of her “Make America Horny Again” show, Daniels was arrested by undercover officers, Avenatti said.
On Thursday, Avenatti tweeted that the actor would enter not guilty pleas to three misdemeanour charges. Later that day, he said the charges had been dropped, and thanked prosecutors.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was held overnight on Wednesday and released at around 6am on Thursday morning after posting a bail bond of $6,000.
An Ohio law known as the Community Defense Act prohibits anyone who is not a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude dancer, and prohibits dancers from touching customers. Avenatti did not deny that Daniels had allowed herself to be touched.
The Columbus Dispatch reported last year that the 2007 law, introduced by a conservative religious group, was seldom enforced.
A prosecutor’s memo provided by Avenatti said an Ohio illegal touching law could not be enforced because Daniels has only appeared once at the Columbus club. The law refers to someone “who regularly appears nude or seminude” at a club.
The 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.
Before the charges were dropped, Avenatti said in a tweet that the arrest was “a setup & politically motivated” and “reeks of desperation”. He added: “We will fight all bogus charges.”
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. Franklin county municipal court records show 23 similar cases this year, including the charges against Daniels.
Avenatti, who has been a familiar face on US cable TV since becoming Daniels’ attorney, claimed Daniels performed the same act at Sirens that she had performed at nearly 100 strip clubs across the US.
A person who answered the phone at the strip club declined to comment.
Daniels has claimed she had sex with Trump in 2006, when he was married. Trump has denied any sexual relationship with Daniels.