COLUMBUS (AP) — Six strip club dancers wrongly faced criminal charges under retaliation by two officers from a Columbus vice unit that was later disbanded and is being investigated, according to the women’s new lawsuit against the officers.
The federal suit filed last week alleges the women were charged in 2017 and 2018 because the officers targeted Kahoots Gentlemen’s Club in retaliation for the firing of a bouncer who claimed to work with police.
“These two were charging these women to force Kahoots to rehire this individual,” said the women’s lawyer, David Goldstein. One dancer was accused of a violation for a day when she wasn’t even working, he said.
The women were charged under a state law that bans such dancers from touching patrons. They argue that they were charged without legal justification and that the law is unenforceable because on-duty officers aren’t legally considered patrons.
The city attorney reached the same conclusion and declined to prosecute such alleged violations after the separate arrest of porn actress Stormy Daniels at a different club last summer.
The former Kahoots dancers’ charges were later dismissed. Now they’re seeking compensation for malicious prosecution and violations of their rights.
Columbus police won’t comment on the pending litigation. A message was left Wednesday for the local police union president.
The veteran officers involved, Steven Rosser and Whitney Lancaster, also are among defendants named in a lawsuit filed by Daniels , who drew national headlines with claims that she had sex with Donald Trump before he became president. An internal police review found her arrest was improper but not planned or politically motivated .
Lancaster and Rosser are on desk duty as the vice unit remains under investigation by an FBI Public Corruption Task Force.
Goldstein said plaintiffs Danielle Calderon, Chelsea Paige Ewart, Ashley Graves, Emily Haudenschield, Carla Hoover and Brittany Yates are seeking compensatory damages from the officers, as well as vindication.
Although they had been legally working as adult dancers and the cases were dismissed, Goldstein said, the allegations made it hard for them to find work elsewhere in the business.
“They were sort of blacklisted by other adult clubs here in Columbus because they had been charged,” he said.