Priorities, priorities. Shall we next discuss more of the nuance within the 300 opinions and dissents of the latest nominee to the Supreme Court? The ramifications of the president criticizing the UK Brexit plan? Midterm momentum? The “self-made” Kardashian billionaire-to-be?
Actually, that last subject was tough to discard, but clearly the most urgent political story of the moment is … did someone set up Stormy Daniels to get arrested for assaulting police officers with her, um, assets?
Here’s CBS anchor John Dickerson with as sober a report about the incident as we’re likely to see:
Porn actress Stormy Daniels was arrested at an Ohio strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday. While Daniels was performing Wednesday night at Sirens, a strip club in Columbus, some patrons touched her in a “non-sexual” way, her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told The Associated Press.
An Ohio law known as the Community Defense Act prohibits anyone who isn’t a family member to touch a nude or semi-nude dancer.
We’ll get back to that point in a moment. First, a local news station send a camera crew to capture the historical moment of Daniels’ perp walk for posterity:
— Tino Ramos (@Tino10TV) July 12, 2018
Back to Avenatti’s claim that the touching was “non-sexual,” which suggests an inadvertent brushing or bump. According to the arresting officers, that’s not quite what they’re alleging:
— Byron York (@ByronYork) July 12, 2018
Compare the allegations in that affidavit to the state statute:
(1) No patron who is not a member of the employee’s immediate family shall knowingly touch any employee while that employee is nude or seminude or touch the clothing of any employee while that employee is nude or seminude.
(2) No employee who regularly appears nude or seminude on the premises of a sexually oriented business, while on the premises of that sexually oriented business and while nude or seminude, shall knowingly touch a patron who is not a member of the employee’s immediate family or another employee who is not a member of the employee’s immediate family or the clothing of a patron who is not a member of the employee’s immediate family or another employee who is not a member of the employee’s immediate family or allow a patron who is not a member of the employee’s immediate family or another employee who is not a member of the employee’s immediate family to touch the employee or the clothing of the employee.
The law states that touchings of certain anatomical areas, such as the female breast (clothed or unclothed), moves this up from a 4th degree misdemeanor to a 2nd degree misdemeanor. It could mean 90 days in jail and a $750 fine per count, and potentially Daniels could face several counts for her performance last night.
Prosecutors might want to indict for the full boat or skip it altogether, though. Avenatti will no doubt fight this tooth and nail just for the publicity value of the trial, as well as to position Daniels even more as a martyr for, er, moral rectitude and integrity for having taken six figures to keep silent and then reneging anyway. The affadavit itself raises a few questions, such as why police didn’t arrest Daniels right away after witnessing the first violations. Instead, they approached the stage and participated in the touchings. Will a jury buy the idea that the detectives went up to the stage while this was going on, and then got “forced” to have Daniels slap their faces with her breasts? They could have approached the stage and immediately arrested her based on their own observations, and yet they chose to participate and add in a few more potential counts. Maybe a public defender wouldn’t have the time and resources to pursue that in court, but Avenatti’s no public defender, and he’s going to have a field day with that.
On top of which, what were four detectives doing in the audience last night anyway? Could it be that they showed up because of Daniels, or does the Columbus PD routinely have four undercover detectives in every strip club every night? If not, then prosecutors and police will have some explaining to do. (And the PD might have to explain why if they do.) That’s not going to make for an effective entrapment defense, but it might make a jury think that there were ulterior motives in their pursuit of Daniels. Add in the celebrity factor, and you have the makings of a prosecutorial disaster, albeit on a minor level.
Best bet is that this goes away, very very quietly.