A week after dropping charges against Stormy Daniels, who was arrested by undercover officers at a Columbus strip club, the Columbus City Attorney also dropped charges against two other women involved in the same performance.
Columbus Attorney Zach Klein said in a press release that he's dismissing charges against Brittany Walters and Miranda Panda, who were charged with violating Ohio's "Community Defense Act" in a July 11 appearance at Sirens on Cleveland Avenue. Klein dropped charges against Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, the day after the arrest.
The "Community Defense Act" prohibits anyone who isn't a family member from touching someone "who regularly appears nude or semi-nude" at a club. Columbus said the law can't be enforced against Walters, Panda or Clifford because they don't meet the "regular appearances" statute.
In addition, Klein says that Walters did not qualify because she did not touch a patron, while Panda did not qualify because she did not appear "nude or semi-nude" as a server. Panda was only working her third shift ever at Sirens, according to the release.
After dropping the charges, Klein sent a memo to Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs advising her not to enforce the "Community Defense Act." The memo says the law is "legally problematic" because of its dependence on the regularity of an employee's appearance. Klein also raised concerns about the law's definition of a "patron," which seems to exempt police officers.
"In light of the recent charges filed under this statute, we have recognized there is a glaring inequitable application of the law, which treats people differently for the same conduct based on the frequency of their appearances at sexually oriented businesses,” Klein said in a separate press release. “For this reason, and for the concern over the definition of ‘patron’ as applied to law enforcement, we have issued a directive to the Columbus Division of Police to notify them that we will no longer be prosecuting these charges.”
The City Attorney's Office declined to be interviewed for this story.
Columbus Police previously said they're reviewing the motivations of the undercover officers, while the head of the local Fraternal Order of Police say politics were not a factor. Clifford is currently suing President Trump, after claiming that they had sex before he became president.
Michael Avenatti, Clifford's attorney, said on Twitter that he met with Klein and Jacobs about the arrest. He said they will "decide next steps" after Columbus Police finish their internal investigation. Klein also confirmed the meeting and review.
Just had a very productive mtg in Columbus with City Atty Klein, Police Chief Jacobs, and others relating to what happened to @StormyDaniels. They have promised a thorough investigation, inc. whether it was politically motivated. Once that is complete, we will decide next steps.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) July 18, 2018
Clifford is returning to Columbus in August for two appearances at the Vanity Gentlemen's Club on Bethel Road.