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Stormy Daniels was arrested while performing at a strip club. Lawyer Michael Avenatti thinks it was a “setup.”

She allegedly violated an Ohio law that some say is rarely enforced. Police claim the arrest was a part of a long-term investigation.

Stormy Daniels
Stormy Daniels is again in the news after being arrested while performing at a strip club in Columbus, Ohio.
Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images

Adult film star Stormy Daniels, who is involved in an ongoing legal dispute with President Donald Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen, was arrested early Thursday morning at a strip club in Columbus, Ohio, according to her lawyer, Michael Avenatti. Police say Daniels touched patrons while performing onstage, which is a violation of Ohio state law. She was charged on three misdemeanor counts.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, posted a $6,054 bail on Thursday and was scheduled to be arraigned on Friday morning, July 13, according to court records. The charges against Daniels were subsequently dropped Thursday afternoon, according to Avenatti.

Police said undercover cops witnessed Daniels violating Ohio’s Community Defense Act. The law says that nude employees cannot touch or be touched by patrons other than family members while on the premise of a “sexually oriented” establishment where they appear on regular basis. The Columbus Dispatch found that the law is rarely enforced.

Avenatti believes that Daniels’s arrest was a part of an elaborate “sting operation.” Daniels is suing Trump for defamation following comments he made after revelations of an alleged affair between the two went public.

The plot thickens

Avenatti took to Twitter, declaring that Daniels had set up by police. “This was a setup & politically motivated,” Avenatti said. “It reeks of desperation. We will fight all bogus charges.”

Police allege that Daniels touched the undercover vice officer who was posing as a customer. They also claimed, in a statement following Avenatti’s accusations, that Daniels’s arrest was “part of a long-term investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution, along with other vice related violations.”

Avenatti argued, however, that it was the “customer” who had touched Daniels while she was “on stage in a non sexual manner.”

On Thursday morning Avenatti appeared on MSNBC to further advocate for his client.

He told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle that it was police who pursued Daniels, approaching her and initiating the touching.

“I think this [arrest] is ridiculous,” Avenatti said. “I think it’s an absurd use of law enforcement resources.”

Daniels was arrested on charges in connection with what the Community Defense Act terms “regularly appear[ing] nude or seminude on the premises.” She was certainly seminude at Sirens Gentlemen’s Club and had allegedly touched or been touched by a customer.

But the law didn’t technically apply to her. Daniels, who lives in Texas, isn’t a regular performer since she was simply making a special appearance at the club as a part of a countrywide tour. Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein agreed.

“I’ve determined that these crimes were not committed, based on the fact that Ms. Clifford has not made regular appearances at this establishment as required under the law,” Klein said in a statement Avenatti posted on Twitter.

Daniels had initially canceled her second performance in Columbus when the legal troubles arose. But Thursday night’s show will go on.

“My client [Stormy Daniels] refuses to be intimidated,” Avenatti boasted in a final tweet. “She will return to the scene of the “no crime” tonight in Columbus, Ohio as scheduled. She never ceases to impress!”

It’s unknown if Avenatti’s allegations of a set-up might be correct. Given that the charges have been dropped, it’s unclear if we will ever know.