Columbus City Attorney Could Vacate Previous 'Community Defense Act' Convictions

Aug 3, 2018

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein says he’s willing to reopen old cases and potentially erase the convictions of people under a state law meant to limit touching in strip clubs. 

Two weeks ago, after dropping charges against porn star Stormy Daniels and two other women, Klein said the state's "Community Defense Act" was unenforceable since it treated local and travelling performers differently.

The law also carved out an exception for police officers. Since most cases revolved around performers touching undercover cops - as when Daniels was arrested - Klein said charges in those types of cases could be thrown out.

Now, Klein says his office is willing to reopen already-closed cases and let people potentially withdraw their guilty pleas.

"If you do fall in that boat, please contact our office," Klein says. "We stand ready for application of the law, and we're going to do everything possible to review each case individually on its merits."

Klein says he is not aware of any convictions that have already been overturned. He says his office will not consider reopening cases that included multiple charges.

Klein previously instructed Columbus Police to not enforce the "Community Defense Act," and dismissed the pending charges of eight other women charged with touching.

According to records obtained by WOSU, since 2015, the city has settled 13 such cases under the statute, typically for $25-300 each. Most of the charges obtained were filed under Klein’s predecessor Richard Pfeiffer.

Klein’s directive followed July's high-profile Columbus arrest of Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, the porn star who accused President Trump of engaging in an extramarital affair. Charges against her and two other performers arrested at Sirens were dismissed days later.

Daniels returned to Columbus this week for two performance at the Vanity Gentlemen's Club, both of which appeared to have gone without incident.