COLUMBUS (WBNS) – While the city of Columbus has settled lawsuits with Stormy Daniels and two other women for what authorities deemed to be their improper arrests, newly released audio recordings detail how two vice officers are defending their actions amid a recommendation from the interim police chief that they be fired.
During the audio recordings of an August 26 discipline hearings of vice officers Steve Rosser and Whitney Lancaster, obtained by 10 Investigates through an open records request, Interim Police Chief Thomas Quinlan asks Rosser about whether he admits or denies that administrative charges he faces.
While Rosser admitted that his timesheets were inaccurate, he denied that he lied to internal affairs about why vice officers went to Siren’s Gentlemen’s Club on the night of July 11, 2018 – when Daniels and two other women were arrested for violating a state law that bans physical contact between strippers and patrons.
Quinlan: “Charge #4 is cause of dismissal the specification says that you took actions regarding Stephanie Clifford that deviated significantly from actions taken at every other strip club investigation - investigated by you. Do you admit or deny that your actions deviated from this?”
Rosser: “I admit my actions did deviate I deny that it was improper.”
FOP attorney Jaclyn Tipton addressed the allegations with Quinlan, defending the actions of Rosser and Lancaster.
Tipton said that the officers’ actions at Sirens were part of a larger investigation into allegations of human trafficking at strip clubs in Columbus. She also said while Rosser did conduct a field interview with Daniels instead of interviewing her at CPD headquarters, it was not a violation of standard operating procedure.
She also acknowledged that there was a previous email from city prosecutors detailing problems with vice officers charging strippers with the “no contact” law – and a subsequent meeting in January of 2018 prior to Daniels’ arrest – she characterized those meetings as focused on optics of having officers inside of strip clubs rather than problems with the actual law.
“Never have the officers been told they were not patrons. Yes there was an email in 2011 regarding use of the charge – there were meetings with the city prosecutors regarding strip club investigations – but none specifically on this issue,” she said.
10 Investigates also has copies of 2015 emails sent to Rosser in which city attorneys express concern that a “savvy defense attorney will look at this code section and argue that a police detective who is on duty investigating this establishment is a public employee acting within the scope of the public employee’s duties.”
Lancaster called in sick for his August 26 hearing, so Tipton spoke on his behalf.
During that interview, she again re-iterated that the vice officers were there as part of a larger investigation into Columbus strip clubs. She pointed out that officers had used the “no contact” charge successfully before – even though many of the cases ended with convictions on lesser charges.
But the FOP attorney did not mention -- nor was she asked about -- internal emails showing that vice officers shared pictures of Donald Trump with Stormy Daniels before her July 11 arrest, and shared a map showing where Stormy was going to perform at Sirens.
Daniels alleged in her lawsuit that was settled Friday that conservative vice officers - including Rosser - plotted against her because her past alleged affair with Trump.
An internal police investigation did not support that allegation.
While Daniels was initially charged with touching undercover officers with parts of her body, the charges were later dropped against Daniels and other women after city prosecutor Zach Klein cited troubles with the decade-old law.