On July 11 of last year, AVN Hall of Famer Stormy Daniels was arrested in the middle of a stage performance at the Sirens strip club in Columbus, Ohio, as AVN.com reported at the time. She was charged with violating a rarely-enforced local law that prohibits nude or semi-nude performers from initiating any sort of physical contact with audience members, after she “motorboated” a female undercover vice officer during her show, and used “her bare breasts to smack patrons.”
But the three misdemeanor charges against her were dropped in less than 24 hours, as Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs called the arrest a mistake. And now, six months later, Daniels has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the four police officers who orchestrated her arrest: Shana Keckley, Whitney Lancaster, Mary Praither and Steven Rosser. According to a report Monday by The Columbus Dispatch, Daniels’ lawsuit seeks $2 million in damages from the officers.
At the time of her arrest, Daniels had already become a controversial national figure, regularly appearing in news headlines thanks to her lawsuit against Donald Trump over a $130,000 “hush money” deal designed to stop her from talking about a sexual encounter that she had with Trump in 2006. Shortly after the arrest in July, Daniels attorney, Michael Avenatti, claimed that the arrest was politically motivated, orchestrated by the officers out of their support for Trump.
Avenatti, however, is listed only as a “consulting attorney” on Daniels’ lawsuit against the Columbus officers. The suit was filed by two local attorneys, Chase Mallory and Daniel Sabol, according to the Dispatch report.
Subsequent news investigations appear to support Avenatti’s initial claims that Daniels’ arrest was planned in advance, possibly for political reasons. As AVN.com reported, internal police emails obtained by a local news outlet showed one of the officers, Keckley, boasting that the arrest was “all over CNN” as well as sharing news clippings about Daniels’ performance days before Daniels arrived in Columbus. In one email about the arrest, Keckley tells another officer, “You’re welcome!!!!! … Thank me in person later.”
The lead detective in the arrest, Rosser, was shown, in a series of his own social media posts, to be an outspoken supporter of Trump. Rosser posted a series of pro-Trump memes to an account on which he used an alias, with one of the memes including a “Cops for Trump/Pence” logo.
In September, the Columbus Police Department appeared to acknowledge that there may be substance to the claims of political motivations in Daniels’ arrest, in that he shut down the vice unit entirely as the department conducted a “comprehensive review” of the vice cops’ activities. The FBI also reportedly opened an investigation in September into why the arrest happened.
In addition to demanding $1 million in compensatory damages from the officers, plus another $1 million in punitive damages, Daniels’ lawsuit asks the court to declare that the arrest violated her constitutional rights, according to ABC News.
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