COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) - Two female employees at the Ohio strip club where Stormy Daniels was arrested during the summer sued police vice officers Tuesday, claiming they were used as cover for the porn star’s politically motivated arrest.
Miranda Panda of Marion County and Brittany Walters of Franklin County worked at the Sirens Gentlemen's Club in Columbus where Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, was arrested after making a VIP appearance at the club as an exotic dancer in July. Panda worked as a cocktail waitress at the club while Walters was employed as a dancer.
In their lawsuit filed Tuesday in Columbus federal court, Panda and Walters name several officers of the city's vice unit who were allegedly involved in the Sirens sting operation, including Shana Keckley, Whitney Lancaster, Mary Praither and Steven Rosser.
The two women describe themselves as private citizens and say they never sought the publicity that came with their arrests alongside Daniels. They allege the officers used them as cover to arrest Daniels, who claims President Donald Trump paid her $130,000 to conceal an affair she had with him 12 years ago. She has sued Trump to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement related to the alleged affair.
Daniels, Panda and Walters were arrested under a state criminal code for sexually oriented businesses that prohibits workers who appear “nude or semi-nude” from touching patrons.
The two club employees say the vice officers falsely claimed the arrests were part of an investigation into human trafficking and prostitution. Both women say they were clothed and that the officers knew they did not have probable cause to arrest them.
Represented by attorney Edward Forman of the firm Marshall and Forman, Panda and Walters seek damages for claims of false arrest, malicious prosecution, civil conspiracy and defamation.
Neither the law firm nor the city of Columbus immediately responded Tuesday to requests for comment on the lawsuit.
The officers were staunch Trump supporters, according to the lawsuit, and Keckley, Praither, and Rosser are all Republicans who believe that Daniels’ statements against the president are politically damaging.
“Defendant officers entered into a conspiracy to arrest Ms. Clifford at her performance in Columbus as an act of revenge for her statements made about President Trump,” the complaint states. “In addition to taking revenge against Ms. Clifford, defendant officers believed arresting Ms. Clifford would cause damage to Ms. Clifford’s credibility about her allegations against President Trump, and made that damage another objective of their conspiracy.”
The women claim the officers decided in advance that they would arrest two other Sirens employees and fabricate elements of the criminal charges so they could deny that the arrest was politically motivated.
On the night of Daniels’ appearance July 11, the officers entered the club and paid a cover charge of $75 to get VIP access to her performance, the 18-page complaint states. Panda and Walters allege that the officers spent $129 on drinks as well as $639 on tips and cover charges.
Panda claims several officers made lewd comments about her breasts and compared her body to another cocktail waitress. Walters says undercover officers waved money at her face and reached out to touch her.
Columbus police later dismissed the charges against Daniels and the two plaintiffs, but they say the damage was already done. Panda claims someone wrote the word “whore” on the door of her house after her arrest. Walters says her family did not know she was working as a nightclub dancer until the media descended on her family home to ask about the arrest.
The two women claim Rosser had a Facebook account under the alias “Stevo Shaboykins” that voiced support for Trump but that he deleted the account soon after the arrest.
They assert no arrests would have been made that night if not for Daniels’ political statements about Trump.
Vice unit operations have been put on hold pending investigations by the Columbus Police Department and the FBI, according to ABC6.
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