Attorney: More women allege improper strip searches in LaSalle County
October 8, 2013 (WLS) -- Video recordings that could prove allegations of improper strip searches of women by LaSalle County authorities cannot be destroyed, a judge ordered Tuesday.
Lawyers for Dana Holmes, 32, filed the motion, which was granted by a federal judge on Tuesday. The LaSalle County woman is suing after an alleged improper strip search that left her naked in a jail cell. She was arrested on DUI charges last May. A lawsuit was filed in September.
Attorney Terry Ekl, who represents Holmes, said five women have called his office with similar allegations, and there could be others. This court order mandates the LaSalle County Sheriff's Department preserve all video surveillance that has yet to be deleted.
"These individuals have not yet been interviewed by my office, so we don't know all the circumstances, but in the event that one of their cases was depicted on video that still exists we want to make sure it isn't destroyed," Ekl said.
Holmes' incident was captured by security cameras. It shows four deputies, three men and one woman, carrying Holmes into a jail cell. They put her face down on the floor and then stripped off her clothes.
"I was scared, I just layed there crying," Holmes said.
In Illinois, state law dictates that strip searches may only be carried out by an officer who is of the same sex as the subject after receiving prior authorization and in a location that is deemed private.
"There was no discussion. Is this something we should do? Should we get approval for? These four deputies did it like it was just routine in that sheriff's office. And that's something we want to find out. Is this the routine way that female prisoners are treated in that jail?" Ekl said.
Depending on how old the allegations of other improper strip searchers, those videos may or may not be available. The ruling means anything that still exists cannot be destroyed.
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