Rapists in uniform #5: on invasions of privacy

Trigger warning. The video of a local news story, below, may be triggering for experiences of sexual violence.

When anarchists suggest that a civilized society can do without government or its cops, we are always asked how people in an anarchistic society would be protected from violent criminals like murderers and rapists. If we suggest that people could handle their own protection through consensual private arrangements — individual self-defense, cooperative community defense, or hiring out help, if need be — we are constantly told that we need monopolistic government control in order to ensure that professional police go about their policing in a way that’s transparent and accountable to the people.

In northern Ohio, a woman named Hope Steffey is suing the Stark County sheriff’s office and several of the deputies and prison guards working for them. Here’s why.

So, a gang of uniformed women and men, violently exercising the power of the State, pinned a screaming woman down on the floor of a jail cell and tore off her clothes to search her, over her screams of protest, while male guards were not only still in the cell, but in fact wrenching her arms behind her back, and then left her naked in the freezing-cold cell for six hours, in full view, without even a blanket to cover her body or keep herself warm. This was, of course, justified by means of unilaterally declaring Hope Steffey crazy, so that they could officially record that they had to inflict that kind of extreme violence and sexual humiliation on an imprisoned woman, over a period of hours — for her own good. Afterwards, when a local news station interviewed Hope Steffey, and aired video of what the cops and prison guards did, they ended up facing a series of unkind words about their character and professionalism. And here is how the dedicated public servants of the Stark County sheriff’s office have transparently and accountably responded the strains resulting from public exposure of their treatment of Hope Steffey:

CANTON — 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.

Last year, WKYC Channel 3 began airing reports on a lawsuit filed by a Salem woman who says she was strip-searched at the jail in October 2006. The reports included video of sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers pinning Hope Steffey to the floor of a jail cell and removing her clothes.

This week, those deputies — Kristin Fenstemaker, Laura Rodgers, Tony Gayles, Richard T. Gurlea Jr., Andrea Mays and Brian Michaels — sued reporter Tom Meyer, WKYC and its parent company, alleging defamation and invasion of privacy.

The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $25,000 and is assigned to Stark County Common Pleas Judge Charles E. Brown Jr.

— CantonRep.com (2009-01-30): Deputies sue TV station over reports about woman stripped naked

The lawsuit may seem obviously retributive; it may indeed seem like a thuggish attempt to silence criticism by shooting the messenger. But the strip-searchers would like the press, and a judge, to consider how hard it’s been on them, having their privacy invaded like that.

When you write about politics — and the politics of policing, especially — the problem is that, if you try to write anything more articulate than just expressing how much the whole thing makes you want to spit nails, you’ll soon find that the usual tools of satire, or even simple sarcasm, end up useless: the facts themselves, just as they are, constantly outstrip any sort of ridicule, no matter how over-the-top, that you could possibly craft.

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  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-03-21 – Standard Operating Procedure #2:

    […] GT 2009-01-31: Rapists in uniform #5: on invasions of privacy […]

· December 2009 ·

  1. John

    This is the BCI report that Agent Christy S. Palmer sent to John D. Ferrero, Prosecuting Attorney Stark County Ohio. Dated April 16, 2008 BCI Case #: SI-76-08-14-0147

    This is part of page 3

    http://s2.photobucket.com/albums/y39/Zemo999/?action=view&current=BCI-Report.jpg

    Sheriff Swanson has ALWAYS maintained that Steffey was ASKED & REFUSED to remove her cloths. But here’s the BCI’s OWN REPORT that PROVES this is a LIE! And then they try to explain away their first lie with another lie, about why it was done this way without asking Steffey to do it voluntarily.

    They are trying to say that Steffey was resisting enough that EIGHT people (5 women, 3 men) couldn’t take the chance of ASKING her to remove her cloths, or EVEN TELL HER WHAT WAS GOING ON!!! What a crock!!

    I did NOT see any resisting in the video, I saw eight cops parading her to the cell, with her in cuffs.

    In fact EVERY video I have seen she is in cuffs! And the ONLY times I have seen her react to the cops is after they have assaulted her or in the process of stripping her naked.

    But apparently catching the sheriff’s dept in a lie isn’t a big deal to our “independent” BCI investigator, Christy Palmer, who seems ready to accept ANY excuse the sheriff’s dept wants to use.

    The report also goes on to say that they lowered Steffey in a slow controlled manner to the floor. Except that Steffey says she was thrown to the floor. She also told her husband in a phone call that she thought the cops had broken her nose. And she was treated by the nurse for the injury. And in page 4 of this report Christy Palmer even states that Steffey reported that her nose was making “crunching noises”.

    So I guess this is proof of a second LIE! (Or third)

    And still Christy Palmer, the “independent investigator” doesn’t think twice about accepting the word of the cops over the VICTIMS in spite of proof. BTW, Christy also references a video that she says “proves that she was lowered in a slow controlled manner to the floor”. As far as I know, THIS would have to be on the ‘non-existent’ beginning of the strip video. On May 5th when I asked about the “missing” video, I was told it would soon be released. Now here again it looks as though it’s referenced…even though they NOW claim it does not exist. Interesting. (I have filed a request for this video.)

    Its no wonder the grand jury found that the cop’s actions didn’t rise to the level of “criminal culpability”. How could they with the BCI investigator spellchecking the sheriff’s own reports and passing them on as FACT.

    This isn’t so much an investigation report as it is a smear campaign against Hope Steffey.

    The cops can polish this turd as much as want, this STILL STINKS!

    BTW I don’t know why they bothered to black out the names of Nurse Coren Lennon and the jail psychologist Thomas Anuszkiewicz, aren’t they PROUD of the work they do?

    =======================================================

    UPDATE:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgmyQvB3XSQ

    Ok here’s a video you won’t see on the news.

    Here’s the cops taking Steffey to the cell to strip her naked. This shows what was going on outside in the hallway.

    The quality of the video is pretty bad. It will seem to ‘skip’ frames for quite a while in some places, but then take a bunch in a row at other times. Why it does this, I don’t know. All the cameras at the sheriff’s dept seem to be in bad shape and “malfunction” right at critical moments.

    I had to cut this video in half, it was 20 minutes long, from the time they took her in to the time they left the hall in front of her cell. So I cut off the front of it when they took her in. Heres a link to the whole thing that should be good for a while: http://rapidshare.com/files/232400098/Production_Done.wmv

    WHY does it take 20 minutes outside the hall to show a “suicide prevention” that only took 4 min?

    The building camera, seems to skip a lot of frames, so you’d think it would be a shorter video.

    But as you can see after they have closed up the cell after assaulting her, they immediately open her cell again, and some of them enter it. The rest all stand around and have a good laugh, so this will add some more time to the video.

    As you can see from the video the big dufass in the white shirt, he stays at the door to the cell looking in all the time Steffey was being assaulted, and then he stays back around her cell afterwards, looking in….GEE, I wonder WHY? Then afterwards he’s joined by another officer who didn’t get a chance to help strip Steffey and he starts walking down to have a look too.

    WHY DON’T THEY JUST SELL TICKETS?!?!?!?

    BUT THEN the camera seems to malfunction, and the next thing you see is a empty hall. BUT only ONE second has passed on the time marks!

    WOW, …..MORE “missing” video from Stark County Sheriff’s Dept.

    Heres the first video in a series that shows Steffey as she comes into the station. As will become obvious, the cops lies about how “physically abusive” she was is disproved by the videos.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEhyDgQojKs

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