Columbus, OH – Five Columbus police officers are facing departmental discipline for their roles in the arrest of porn star Stormy Daniels at a strip club in 2018.
Stephanie Clifford, who strips by the name of Stormy Daniels, was performing a show as part of her “Make American Horny Again” tour at the adult entertainment club Sirens in July of 2018 when she was alleged to have touched three different police officers in an illegal manner, according to WCMH.
Court documents said Clifford forced patrons' faces into her breasts and used her bare breasts to smack patrons during her performance, WCMH reported.
Clifford also fondled the breasts and buttocks of female patrons in the strip club, including a female police officer, according to the probable cause affidavit filed with the Franklin County court.
An Ohio law passed in 2007, known as the "Ohio Stripper Bill,” instituted a no-touch rule between strippers and club patrons. The law prohibited nude, or partially nude, dancers from touching customers, and vice versa, FOX News reported.
However, a loophole in the Ohio Revised Code that governs the behavior of strippers in adult clubs says that the law only applies to dancers who make repeated performances at the venue, according to the prosecutor.
The same rules don’t apply to guest strippers, so the charges against Clifford were dropped.
On Jan. 14, attorneys for Clifford filed a lawsuit against the Columbus police officers that alleged they violated her civil rights when they arrested her on July 11, 2018, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
The lawsuit accused Columbus Division of Police Officers Shana Keckley, Whitney Lancaster, Mary Praither, and Steven Rosser of targeting her for political reasons, and alleged they were all Republicans or supporters of President Trump.
In the lawsuit, Clifford’s attorney cited social media postings and emails between the vice officers, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Clifford’s lawsuit is seeking a minimum of $2 million in damages for malicious prosecution, false arrest, civil conspiracy to violate her rights, abuse of process, and defamation.
The lawsuit alleged that the vice officer “believed that Ms. Clifford was damaging President Trump and they thereafter entered into a conspiracy to arrest her during her performance in Columbus in retaliation for the public statements she had made regarding President Trump.”
“By maliciously releasing false statements to public newspapers and broadcasters and on social media platforms strongly implying Ms. Clifford was engaged in immoral conduct... defendants defamed Ms. Clifford, causing injury to her reputation and exposing her to contempt, ridicule, shame and disgrace in the community,” it read.
Despite those accusations, an internal investigation by the Columbus police in March determined that while the arrest of Daniels had not been politically motivated, it was “improper.”
Columbus Division of Police Interim Chief Tom Quinlan said the officers facing administrative discipline had all been members of the now-defunct “Vice Squad,” NPR reported.
Columbus Police Commander Terry Moore, Lieutenant Ron Kemmerling, Sergeant Scott Soha, and Detectives Steven Rosser and Whitney Lancaster are all facing scrutiny from the department for their part in Daniels’ strip club arrest, according to WCMH.
"I made this decision because these officers violated our rules of conduct,” Chief Quinlan said.
The officers will have individual hearings before the city’s director of public safety, NPR reported.
"The range of discipline for these officers can include a reprimand, a suspension, demotion, and/or termination,” Chief Quinlan said.
There is also a federal inquiry ongoing into the incident, according to NPR.
"Because of pending litigation as well as a concurrent federal criminal investigation, I will not elaborate further on our investigations findings at this time," Chief Quinlan said.