By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated August 18, 2003 01:53 PM

Antonella Santini, an exotic dancer from Vancouver who’s been featured in lascivious National Enquirer articles purporting that she had a sexual encounter with Ben Affleck, has sued the tabloid, saying she never had physical intimacy with the “Gigli” actor, reports Reuters.

But the Enquirer — which has run two articles about Affleck’s visit to Brandi’s all-nude club in the British Columbian province and his alleged encounter with Santini — says “all our sources stand by the story, and we expect to resolve this in our favor very quickly,” according to a spokesman for its parent company.

The articles sparked wide reaction in mainstream media circles, in which speculation arose that Affleck’s fiancee, Jennifer Lopez, might call off their engagement.

In her lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles, Santini (who goes by the stage name “Felicia”) says the entire incident was made up by another dancer, Tammy Morris, whom Santini claims was paid $100,000 for her story, according to her court papers.

“The true story is that … Affleck visited Brandi’s and during his visit, plaintiff and other dancers danced for Affleck and other patrons in Brandi’s VIP room,” the documents states. “Contrary to the Enquirer’s reports, Plaintiff did not engage in any sex acts with Affleck.”

Santini, who is asking for punitive damages, names Morris and three Enquirer reporters as defendants in the libel suit. The Enquirer’s parent company, American Media, Inc., is also being targeted.

The defendants “must be punished before they callously destroy another private person’s life in their race to profit and to sell tabloid magazines,” the lawsuit says.