We discussed the arrest of Stormy Daniels this week and the curious Ohio laws making any touching between strippers and customers a crime, even the touching of clothing. The arrest was part of an operation with four undercover officers. The later dropping of the charges only deepened questions over the need for the string operation and the arrest of Daniels, who real name is Stephanie Clifford.
The 2007 state law called the Community Defense Act prohibits dancers from touching customers and vice versa. A female policer undercover officer says that Daniels was topless when she “knowingly” touched the officer’s buttocks, placed her hands on the officer’s breast and then put her chest in the officer’s face while “on the premise of a sexually oriented business.”
The law states
(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.
Now, Columbus police chief Kim Jacobs says that the arrest was a “mistake” because “one element of the law was missed in error.” Specifically, the law is only applicable to those who “regularly” perform at strip clubs and Daniels’ performance was part time of a two-night gig at the Sirens Gentlemen’s Club in Columbus. Jacobs actually apologizes that “A mistake was made, and I accept full responsibility.”
I do not like these vague laws often enacted as morals legislation. The provision does state “who regularly appears nude or seminude on the premises of a sexually oriented business.” Daniels was just doing a limited appearance rather than a regular appearance. However, she has announced that she will return to the club. It is not clear what constitutes “regular” under the scope of the law. How about someone who is just starting or is a temporary employee? Does appearing a couple time a year on a regular schedule mean “regular.” The concern raised in the original blog was the vagueness of the terminology and danger of arbitrary enforcement.
There was a backlash in the area to the arrest of the woman who presents an ongoing embarrassment, and potential threat, to President Donald Trump. Notably, Jacobs announced that not only would the three charges be dropped but the “motivations” of the officers will be “reviewed internally.” Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti posted screenshots of what he claimed where pro-Trump social media posts by the arresting officer.
An investigation is clearly warranted but does this mean that the sheriff will now resume arresting non-famous strippers for any contact at a strip club? If that is the case, it would be good to have a full definition of what “regular” and other key terms might be under the Community Defense Act.