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Stormy Daniels Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Columbus Vice Officers

Stormy Daniels speaks during a ceremony for her receiving a City Proclamation and Key to the City on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 in West Hollywood, Calif.
Ringo H.W. Chiu

Stormy Daniels has filed a federal civil rights unit against the Columbus Police Vice Unit, claiming her July arrest was the result of a “political vendetta.”

Detectives arrested Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, at the Columbus strip club Sirens on July 11. Along with two other women, Daniels was charged with allegedly violating Ohio’s “Community Defense Act,” which prohibits “nude or semi-nude” dancers from touching patrons.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, names as defendants Vice detectives Shana Keckley, Whitney Lancaster, Mary Praither, Steven Rosser, and two unnamed officers. It seeks $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

According to the suit, officers were “politically motivated” to arrest the adult film star, who months before sued President Trump over a 2016 hush payment. It argues the Vice officers were registered Republicans and “avowed supporters of President Trump.”

“Defendant Officers also arrested Ms. Clifford because they believed that doing so would damage her credibility in relation to any statements she had make or might in the future make against President Trump [sic],” the suit says. “Damaging Ms. Clifford’s credibility in this way was another purpose of Defendant Officers’ conspiracy.”

City Attorney Zach Klein later dropped all charges against Daniels and the other women arrested, and recommended Columbus Police stop enforcing the law.

"Here in America, unlike in Russia, we don't arrest citizens for political purposes in an effort to silence them," wrote lawyer Michael Avenatti in a statement. "Each and every individual who had a hand in this bogus arrest, no matter their position power, will be held accountable."

In October, Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters filed their own lawsuit accusing Vice officers of false arrest and retaliation.

Columbus Police 'paused' most Vice operations in September, after the department and FBI launched an investigation into the unit. Three detectives have since been removed of duty, including defendants Rosser and Lancaster. The department announced last month it would resume some Vice operations, although stings undercover operations remain suspended.

Columbus Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.