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Charges against Stormy Daniels dropped hours after arrest

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Prosecutors dropped charges Thursday against Stormy Daniels just hours after the porn star was arrested and accused of illegally rubbing undercover police officers’ faces against her bare breasts during a performance at an Ohio strip club.

Her attorney said she was “set up” in a Columbus police sting operation, calling it an “absurd use of law enforcement resources.” Police said they routinely conduct such undercover operations.

The 39-year-old adult film star who claims to have had sex with President Donald Trump was charged with three misdemeanors, each punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. She was released on $6,000 bail around daybreak Thursday.

By early afternoon, prosecutors said they were dropping the case because Ohio’s law against physical contact between strippers and customers applies only to someone who “regularly” performs at a club. In Daniels’ case, it was her first appearance at Sirens in Columbus.

Police said Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, smacked the faces of two female officers and one male officer with her bare breasts. Officers knocked on the door of her tour bus after the performance and took her into custody.

Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Daniels was “traumatized and rattled” following the arrest.

She was booked under a 10-year-old state law known as the Community Defense Act that says dancers at “sexually oriented” businesses are prohibited from touching customers and vice versa.

Police said two other dancers were arrested along with Daniels. Prosecutors will decide whether to pursue charges against those women.

Police said Daniels’ arrest was part of a long-term human trafficking investigation of adult clubs. They said they have made numerous arrests under the no-touching law but did not immediately provide a number.

The police department “engages in these operations routinely,” said spokesman Sgt. Dean Worthington.

Daniels canceled her Thursday night performance at Sirens, where she was booked for a two-night engagement. Avenatti posted on Twitter a statement from Daniels apologizing to her fans in Columbus.

A person who answered the phone at the strip club declined to comment.

Daniels has said she had sex with Trump in 2006, when he was married. Trump has denied it. Before the election, she was paid $130,000 to stay silent in a deal handled by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. She is now suing to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement.

___

Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles, Catherine Lucey in Washington, Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati and Bob Lentz in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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