Stormy Daniels, the porn star who has said she had an affair with U.S. President Donald Trump, was arrested while performing at a strip club in Ohio’s capital early on Thursday in what her lawyer called a politically motivated setup.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was accused of touching three customers who were undercover vice detectives, police in Columbus said in a statement.
Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, said the touching was non-sexual and that his client will plead not guilty to the three misdemeanor charges of illegally operating a sexually oriented business related to knowingly touching a patron.
“This was a setup & politically motivated. It reeks of desperation,” Avenatti said on Twitter. “We will fight all bogus charges.”
Columbus police said the arrest of Daniels and two other women at Sirens Gentlemen’s Club was part of a long-term investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution and other vice-related violations at adult entertainment clubs in the city.
Daniels, 39, has filed two civil lawsuits against Trump, with whom she said she had a sexual encounter in 2006, a decade before he was elected president. One seeks to get out of a non-disclosure agreement she signed the month before the 2016 election in exchange for $130,000 to keep the affair secret, while the other is for defamation. Trump has denied the affair.
According to an arrest affidavit cited by the New York Times, Daniels was dancing topless at the club when she pressed patrons’ faces into her chest, fondled the breasts of some women in the audience and performed similar acts on three police officers who were at the establishment.
Under Ohio law, strip club patrons and nude or semi-nude employees are not allowed to touch each other.
Avenatti told MSNBC his client was released on $6,000 bail, and that he did not expect the case to affect her lawsuits against Trump.
Daniels will not appear at an arraignment hearing scheduled for Friday morning, Avenatti said, adding that he will enter a not guilty plea on her behalf later on Thursday.
Daniels has said Trump‘s personal attorney Michael Cohen paid her the $130,000. Cohen has confirmed he made the payment. Daniels is also suing Cohen. In May, Trump said Daniels was paid to stop “false and extortionist accusations.”
Prosecutors are investigating Cohen for possible crimes related to his business dealings, a source familiar with the investigation told Reuters in April. He has not been charged.
Daniels has been on tour since last winter, appearing at strip clubs across the United States, and had been due to perform again at Sirens on Thursday night. Avenatti on Twitter cited an official statement from Daniels saying that because of her arrest Thursday night’s performance was canceled.