Women suing Portsmouth Sheriff's Office describe strip searches

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by Philip Townsend

WVEC.com

Posted on May 1, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 1 at 5:23 PM

PORTSMOUTH -- New details are emerging regarding a lawsuit filed against the Portsmouth Sheriff's Department.

Nine female contractors are suing, alleging they had to strip and then were searched for drugs last April.  The women worked for Correct Care Solutions or Aramark Correctional Facility Food Service.

Sheriff Watson says the searches were part of an ongoing investigation into drugs being brought into the jail.

"They were not forced to do anything," Watson told 13News. "When you enter the jail, there's signs on every entrance door that comes into the jail when you pass by this door, you're subject to search. They see that sign every day."

But all nine women involved are questioning why they were target of such an invasive procedure.

"I thought 'Okay, pat-me-down kind of search. You work in a jail, so it can happen.' But she said 'No, we need you take off all of your clothing including your underwear,'"described Nan Vollette.  "As I was bending and squatting, she said 'You're going to have to bend down a little lower and cough.' I was like 'lower?' And she said 'yes, lower.'"

Angelene Coleman worked as a nurse there for more than 20 years.

"This is an incident that will never go away. It may fade, but it will never go away in our minds," said Coleman.

The women were told if they didn't comply with the search, they would lose their clearance and essentially their jobs.

Marilyn Scott felt she was backed into a corner at the time.
   
"It's degrading, It's demeaning, It hurts," Scott said.


 

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