In the below video, Ohio NBC affiliate WKYC investigator Tom Meyer speaks to Greg Steffey, whose wife, Hope Steffey, called 911 after being assaulted by her cousin. When the police arrived, Hope was "mistakenly" treated as the perpetrator, arrested, taken to jail, subjected to a full-body strip search by male and female officers in violation of the sheriff's department's own policy, and left naked in a cell for six hours. There is video of the strip search included in the news segment, and it is extremely upsetting:
Given that Hope was never asked to remove her clothes with an explanation of why it was necessary, but instead just forcibly subjected to a strip search by officers of both sexes without her consent, I fail utterly to see how this is not a sexual assault.
And though the case is exacerbated by Hope Steffey ending up in police custody after calling for their help, there's categorically no justification for this sort of treatment of anyone, irrespective of their being suspected of a crime, or not.
The story gets even worse, as five more women subsequently came forward alleging similar mistreatment, with a refrain of "threatened suicide." That is, according to the police, each female detainee threatened suicide, which triggered the strip search, presumably to ensure they had no means of hurting themselves.
That the women deny making such threats is only part of the problem; even if they had, there is still no legitimate reason to forego requesting voluntarily compliance before effectively attacking the women to remove their clothes, nor is there legitimate reason to have violated department policy about strip searches being performed only by members of the same sex.
Now the officers involved in the case, caught on video roughly removing Hope Sheffey's clothes to the sound of her terrified screams, are suing the station who shone sunlight on their dirty deeds, claiming defamation and—get this—invasion of privacy.
Stark County sheriff’s deputies who were vilified after a Cleveland television station aired video of them stripping a woman at the Stark County Jail have filed a lawsuit saying they are victims of one-sided reporting.Well, I'd certainly love to hear the "other side" of this story—you know, the one in which six police officers can come up with a reasonable explanation for why they held down a woman who'd called them for help and tore her clothes off in a flagrant breach of their department's own policy. That would be some fun victim-blaming, no doubt.
The sheriff's office contends that deputies removed Steffey's clothing as a suicide precaution on the orders of a psychologist after she made a statement to a nurse indicating that she might harm herself.That old canard!
Meyer disregarded any information that could support that claim, including Steffey's booking photos, jail audio recordings, a 911 tape and a transcript of her criminal trial, which included testimony that Steffey was intoxicated and ended with her conviction for misdemeanor resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, Zimmerman said.I'll give you a moment to recover from learning that Hope Steffey was later convicted for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. I'm guessing you won't be surprised to find out that the video of the police forcibly stripping her wasn't made available to her attorneys until after her trial.
"We provided all the facts to Mr. Meyer and then he ignored all the facts that interfere with his sensationalized story and one-sided story," Zimmerman said.
As to Meyer's disregard of that totally pertinent information (I'd love to hear how a booking photo can support a claim she was threatening suicide, by the way), maybe he just didn't think it was relevant that Steffey was drunk. Perhaps Meyer isn't in the habit of blaming victims for their assaults, so he doesn't think that even a suicide threat, which clearly signals a person in crisis, warrants breaking the rules to further terrorize them. Just a thought.
The reports were "purely for ratings and for advertising and promotion," said Brian Zimmerman, one of the attorneys representing the deputies.Because, of course, there could be no value to the community to know that women are being sexually assaulted by the police, and no reason to stop it from happening. It's just about the ratings.
Look, I don't hate cops; my grandfather was NYPD, and he was a great guy and a great cop who really enjoyed and cared about people. And one of the things I always remember him saying about cops is that the badge doesn't make you a good person—and bad people make bad cops.
Good cops don't break the rules to hurt someone and claim it's for her own good. Good cops find a way to do the right thing, the right way.
[H/T to Shaker Maria M.]