Stormy Daniels, the adult film actor who claims she had sex with Donald Trump, was arrested on Wednesday at a strip club in Ohio for letting patrons touch her while on stage, in what her lawyer has claimed was a set-up.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was performing at Sirens strip club in Columbus when she was touched in a “non-sexual” way, according to her lawyer, Michael Avenatti.
Avenatti said in a tweet the charge was “a setup & politically motivated” and “reeks of desperation”, suggesting that the arrest was a preplanned sting operation. “We will fight all bogus charges,” he said.
Avenatti posted on Twitter early on Thursday that the actor will enter a not guilty plea to three misdemeanour charges.
Franklin county jail officials confirmed Daniels was released at around 6am on Thursday. Court records show Daniels posted a bail bond of $6,000. She is set for a Friday arraignment on three misdemeanour counts of touching a patron at a “sexually oriented” business.
“She was arrested for allegedly allowing a customer to touch her while on stage in a non-sexual manner,” he said. “Are you kidding me? They are devoting law enforcement resources to sting operations for this? There has to be higher priorities.”
After the performance of her “Make America Horny Again” show, Daniels was arrested by undercover officers Avenatti said in an interview with the Washington Post.
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, is seldom enforced.
Avenatti, who has been a familiar face on US cable TV since becoming Daniels’ attorney, railed at what he alleged was a “set-up” and claimed Daniels performed the same act she had performed at nearly 100 strip clubs across the US.
“This was a complete set-up,” he said. “It’s absurd that law enforcement resources are being spent to conduct a sting operation related to customers touching performers in a strip club in a non-sexual manner.”
He tweeted: “We will vehemently contest all charges.”
A person who answered the phone at the strip club declined to comment.
A Columbus police spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment from the Associated Press.
Daniels has claimed she had sex with Donald Trump in 2006, when he was married. Trump has denied any sexual relationship with Daniels.
Trump’s longtime attorney and fixer Michael Cohen facilitated a $130,000 payment to Daniels days before the 2016 presidential election to stop her going public about the alleged affair, for which he was reimbursed by Trump.
Trump said such agreements were “very common among celebrities and people of wealth”.
“In this case it is in full force and effect and will be used in arbitration for damages against Ms Clifford (Daniels),” he tweeted. “The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair.”
Daniels has also claimed that a Trump associate threatened violence against her and her daughter in a clandestine meeting that same year.
She is suing Trump and Cohen and seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement that she signed before the 2016 election.
Daniels was due to perform at the Sirens Gentlemen’s Club on Wednesday and Thursday, according to its website.
However, Avenatti, in a post on Twitter early on Thursday, cited an official statement from Daniels as saying: “As a result of what happened last night, I will unfortunately be unable to go forward with tonight’s scheduled performance. I deeply apologize to my fans in Columbus.”