Trigger warning. The following videos of two local news stories may be triggering for experiences of sexual assault.
(Via J.H. Huebert @ LewRockwell.com Blog 2008-02-03 and Balloon Juice 2008-02-03.)
Hope Steffey, 47, of Salem, Ohio, is suing for compensation from a gang of men and women who raped her.
In October 2006, in Salem, Ohio, Steffey, 47, was assaulted by one of her cousins in a domestic dispute and knocked unconscious. The family called 911 for help; a sheriff’s deputy named Officer Richard T. Gurlea came out to the house to do some serving and protecting. He asked Hope Steffey for ID, and she mistakenly gave him the wrong driver’s license — one of her late sister’s old licenses, which she kept in her wallet as a memento after her sister died. The cop noticed that it was the wrong license, and, after he got the right one, he refused to give Steffey back her sister’s old license. When she became distraught and pleaded with him to give back the license, Officer Richard T. Gurlea, sanctimoniously instructed her to
calm down, ran a criminal check on her real license (which came back completely clean), demanded to search her car, still refused to give her back her keepsake, and finally, public servant that he is, snapped back
Shut up about your dead sister. Now treating Steffey, the victim of a violent crime who had called for his help and protection, as if she were herself a criminal, he escalated the confrontation, and, when Hope Steffey dared to point at the pocket where he was holding her keepsake and to shout at him about how important it was to her, Officer Richard T. Gurlea courageously defended himself by grabbing the assault victim he had been dispatched to help, slamming her face-down on the hood of his car, and shouting
are you going to stop? Then he threw her down, pinned her to the ground, and handcuffed her. Then he arrested her for
disorderly conduct and
resisting arrest, and took her to the Stark County jail. This is what happened after she was locked up in the jail:
While they were booking her, one of the guards asked her
Have you thought about harming yourself? The purpose of this question is in order to give the jailers an opportunity to label you as crazy for legal purposes, which, in their minds, is reason enough to inflict on you absolutely any kind of cruelty, violence, or invasion of your privacy, and then, to crown all, to turn around and call your torture and humiliation a precaution taken For Your Own Safety. Bewildered and brutalized, Hope Steffey asked for clarification:
Now or ever? In this case, apparently the jailers figured that that was close enough for government work, so what they did was get a gang of male and female guards to surround Hope Steffey and drag her to a cell, then have least two male officers pin her down and hold her arms (she was still handcuffed throughout the ordeal) while female officers stripped her naked and searched her over her screams of protest. After this sadistic sexual assault, they left her locked in her cell, totally naked, without even a blanket to cover herself. She eventually wrapped herself in toilet paper from her cell’s commode, in a desperate effort to keep herself warm and regain a little bit of privacy.
Hope Steffey has filed suit in federal court against the Gurlea, sheriff Tim Swanson, and fifteen unnamed jail guards. Here’s how the sheriff’s office has responded:
In a written response to the lawsuit, Swanson and his deputies deny wrongdoing and maintain the arresting deputy, Richard T. Gurlea Jr., and others at the jail are allowed to use reasonable force to make an arrest and protect prisoners in their custody.
The department does not deny that Steffey was stripped of her clothes and left naked in a cell for six hours.
The defense has asked a judge to dismiss the claims.
— Canton Repository (2008-02-02): Sheriff responds to strip-search video
Tim Swanson’s idea of
reasonable force and
protecting prisoners may be different from yours. If so, you can share your thoughts with him at his office phone number, (330) 430-3800.
There’s a lot more that I might say about this, if I were able to keep on typing. But honestly I can’t. I first learned about this case yesterday, but to write this post I watched the videos over again and I now am shaking so badly with anger and despair that I just can’t keep banging on with the usual stuff. If you want analysis, it’d be about what I said in Rapists on patrol, Law and Orders #6: Pigs at the trough, and Corrections officers; if you imagine this is Yet Another Isolated Incident, then compare it with the more or less identical treatment of Beryl Wilson, Michael Moran, and Ricardo Montalvo by the Kalamazoo City Police, or, Christ, just google around for a few minutes until you’re satisfied. But I’m not about to dignify the fucking pigs in Stark County, or their hordes of freelance sado-fascist police enablers — fouling any Internet or media outlet they can find with putrefying excuses like
She gave him a fake ID!
She went psycho! They did what they had to to carry out their policies!
She’s just poisoning the well so she can shake them down in court! etc. — by pretending as if there were any need, or any room, for debating this. It’s obvious, and it’s caught on tape, and there is no possible excuse. Those who are willing to stand up, in the name of Law and Order and Official Procedures, for officially-sanctioned gang rape, have already done much more to reveal the absolute depravity of their position than anything I could ever say.
Update 2008-02-06: I made some minor revisions to one sentence for grammar and clarity.