Shannon Peters Says Woodbury Jail Unlawfully Strip Searched Her
(WOODBURY CO, IA) For the first time we're hearing from one of the women suing Woodbury County over strip searches at the jail.
This comes just months after 3 Siouxland women received settlements totaling 385 thousand dollars for wrongful strip searches.
Shannon Peters and Nicole Clay are the most recent inmates accusing the Woodbury County Jail of wrongful strip searches.
The women's attorney, David O'Brien says although many correctional officers have changed their ways since 2008 when it comes to the strip search policy a few of them "haven't gotten the message."
In 2006 and 2007 Maureen Rattray, Lori Mathes and Lisa Lambert sued the Woodbury County Jail because they say they were forced to take their clothes off in front of male officers. Rattray was even subjected to a cavity search after being arrested for drinking and driving.
And even though her case has been settled Rattray showed up Thursday to show her support for the women in the new cases.
"I fought for what I believed in, I knew still continue to think that it will not be right until we get it right. If we continue this, more people are just going to be getting hurt," says Rattray.
Even after Woodbury County paid out settlements to the three women, David O'Brien the attorney in all three cases says the Woodbury County Jail Continues to unlawfully strip search female inmates.
In 2008, the county changed its policy - no longer requiring every inmate to be strip searched.
Still, in 2011 and 2012 Nicole Clay and Shannon Peters say they were forced to undress in front of male officers.
"I was humiliated, physically assaulted and stripped naked in front of males at the jail. The impact that that has on a person's life is unimaginable. Very few people can relate, Maureen is one of very few probably," says Peters.
"Apparently large jury verdicts and large settlements and large amounts of money to defend these cases has not been a sufficient deterrent for Woodbury County to stop engaging in this unconstitutional behavior," says O'Brien.
Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew says he won't comment on the lawsuit specifically, but he plans on installing more cameras in the jail so everyone's actions can be monitored- Jail workers and inmates.
"The men and women that work in the jail are dedicated professionals and that have a very tough job and sometimes some would say they aren't on their best behavior. But still, we must treat people with respect and dignity," says Drew.
The lawyers for the former inmates also released excerpts from depositions with jail staff.
One of those officers was Jorma Schwedler. when asked if detainees have a right to refuse to follow unlawful orders from jailers said, "No, sir."
The lawyer continued, "So if you tell them to lick your shoes, they got to get down and lick your shoes?"
"Yes, sir," Schwedler said.
Peters is scheduled to go to Trial December 16 and Clay February 3rd.