Posts tagged Tim Swanson

Standard Operating Procedure #2

It’s done a lot. We have a lot of prisoners in there totally naked. — Timothy Swanson, Sheriff of Stark County, Ohio.

STARK COUNTY — A story that already has people talking nationwide is certain to get more attention with a billboard that encourages former female inmates to report jail abuse.

The billboard along Route 62 near Root Avenue in Stark County was put up as a result of the civil lawsuit brought by Hope Steffey against Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson.

Steffey’s clothes were forcibly removed by both male and female deputies and she was left completely naked inside the Stark county jail for six hours.

Sheriff Swanson says Steffey was considered suicidal so her clothes had to be removed for her own safety. Steffey has denied she was suicidal.

The woman’s lawyers discovered during the lawsuit that at least 128 women between 1999 and 2007 were strip-searched or forced to remove their clothing or placed on suicide watch, homicide watch or naked detention.

The lawyers were unable to obtain the names of these women due to privacy rights. They are using a billboard along a busy four lane road to encourage these women to come forward and to tell their stories.

— Tom Meyer, WKYC (2009-03-12): Investigator Exclusive: Billboard encourages women to report jail abuse

What is becoming clear is that Sheriff Tim Swanson and his goon squad not only have convinced themselves that this kind of brutality is sometimes acceptable, but also that they have an especially broad understanding of the sort of situation that calls for it, and that they are especially willing to use it as a form of humiliating retaliation, in order to teach uppity or unruly women a lesson, under color of the law. And then, to crown all, to further insult the victim by proclaiming that they did it all For Her Own Good. The Stark County sherriff’s office are nothing more and nothing less than a pack of dangerous sexual predators, and their uniforms and badges don’t make them any better than any other gang of serial rapists.

— GT 2008-05-10: Rapists in uniform #3: A sixth woman comes forward

See also:

Rapists in uniform #4: Standard Operating Procedure

It’s done a lot. We have a lot of prisoners in there totally naked. — Timothy Swanson, Sheriff of Stark County, Ohio.

Trigger warning. The link is to a local news story, which includes a video with short clips from a police video which may be triggering for experiences of sexual assault.

For the past several months, Sheriff Tim Swanson has refused all requests for interviews about the Hope Steffey case, claiming that it was inappropriate to comment on the case in the media while it was still being reviewed in court. Of course this was complete bollocks; as he just proved, the real issue was that he had an election coming up in November, and he didn’t want to say anything on teevee that could be used against him, and now that he has been safely re-elected he is happy to wallow around in front of a camera and say any damn thing he pleases about the case. For example, that his gang of hired muscle down at the jail are doing this sort of thing all the time, and it’s not his fault because he can’t ship people down to the local mental ward anymore and that it’s O.K. for his crew to strip down women with men in the room because he just can’t be bothered to figure out how to hire enough women that he won’t be routinely sexually traumatizing women in his jail, for their own good, but, hey, it’s all O.K. for the Stark County Sheriff’s office to be running their own personal Abu Ghraib, because the mixed-gender hired muscle that strips women down in cells and leaves them there naked for hours at a time has a nifty four-letter acronym, which makes it all official and O.K.

There is absolutely no conceivable excuse for treating anyone this way, ever. Whether man or woman, calm or belligerent, nice or nasty, crazy or sane. This is gang rape, professionalized and excused by Official Procedures. What is becoming clear is that Sheriff Tim Swanson and his goon squad, not only have convinced themselves that this kind of brutality is sometimes acceptable, but also that they have an especially broad understanding of the sort of situation that calls for it. They are a pack of dangerous predators, and their uniforms and badges don’t make them any better than any other gang of serial rapists.

See also:

We need government cops and government courts because private protection forces and private arbitrators would be accountable to the powerful and well-connected instead of being accountable to the people. (#2)

Trigger warning. The following video of a local news story may be triggering for experiences of sexual assault.

Tom Meyer, WKYC (2008-06-18): Grand Jury clears Sheriff Deputies of criminal misconduct in explosive strip search case:

STARK COUNTY — A Stark county grand jury has found no probable cause that county deputies committed any criminal wrongdoing while arresting Hope Steffey.

As many as 7 male and female deputies forcibly removed Steffey’s clothes inside a Stark County jail cell and left her completely naked for 6 hours. Steffey had someone call for help when a cousin injured her during a fight.

The video of Steffey being stripped searched triggered reaction nationwide, forcing Sheriff Tim Swanson to ask the Ohio Attorney General to step in and investigate the arrest and incarceration of Steffey. Link to The Investigator, Tom Meyer’s previous strip search stories

The results of the investigation were turned over to the Stark County prosecutor who appointed the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section to present the case to the grand jury.

The grand jury decided to not indict any of the deputies. On the day of the grand jury’s findings, Steffey was undergoing questioning in a deposition for her lawsuit against the Sheriff. Steffey is seeking justice in a civil case filed in federal court and which is set to go to trial this December. Steffey is accusing deputies of using excessive and outrageous force.

It’s unclear if the jailhouse video was shown to the grand jury. Those proceedings are secret. But the video is certain to be shown in federal court during her civil trial. The Sheriff has maintained that his office has done nothing wrong and was always in compliance with Ohio jail standards. Steffey’s attorneys are now under federal court order to not discuss the case. But they have argued that that the force used by deputies was brutal and unnecessary.

Phone calls to Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson seeking comment were not returned.

Attorney General Marc Dann launched the state investigation into the Steffey case in February. Dann resigned May 14 after only 17 months in office. Dann was forced to step down following a highly-publicized sex scandal in his office which included his affair with a female staff member.

— Tom Meyer, WKYC (2008-06-18): Grand Jury clears Sheriff Deputies of criminal misconduct in explosive strip search case

Susan Vinella, WKYC (2008-06-19): Investigator Exclusive: Special prosecutors deny Steffey case was a strip search:

The special prosecutors in the Hope Steffey case said Thursday that there was no strip search and no criminal wrongdoing by the Stark County sheriff’s deputies.

Paul Scarsella and Bridget Carty said the incident, in which male and female deputies forcibly removed Steffey’s clothes at the Stark County jail, was a suicide precaution.

They said the deputies were only following a medical order given by a doctor on duty to remove her clothes.

The special prosecutors presented the results of their investigation to a grand jury on Wednesday. The grand jury declined to indict the deputies involved.

Though the jail has suicide suits for inmates to wear, Scarscella said Steffey was not immediately given one because even the suit was deemed too dangerous for her to have.

Steffey and her lawyers have denied that she was suicidal or was given the opportunity to remove her clothes herself, as the prosecutors say she was.

There is no policy that prevents men from removing a female inmate’s clothes during a suicide precaution situation. During a strip search, jail policy prevents men from being involved.

In a phone interview, Scarsella and Carty said they attempted to interview Steffey before the grand jury hearing Wednesday. They never did speak to her because they would not allow her attorneys by her side, as she requested.

Steffey did appear before the grand jury.

Scarsella said he could not say whether attorneys were allowed to sit in on the questioning of the sheriff’s deputies because ethical guidelines prevent him from discussing an investigation of uncharged defendants.

— Susan Vinella, WKYC (2008-06-19): Investigator Exclusive: Special prosecutors deny Steffey case was a strip search

See also:

Rapists in uniform #3: a sixth woman comes forward

(Via Google News.)

Another woman in northern Ohio has come forward about an unnecessary and sexually humiliating strip search by the Stark County sheriff’s office. She is the sixth woman who has come forward about the Stark County sheriff’s office in the past four months. Like four other women, she came forward after learning about Hope Steffey’s gang-rape search at the hands of male and female deputies, and her lawsuit against the sheriff’s office. Elizabeth is afraid for her own safety and the safety of her family, so she has chosen not to use her last name or reveal her face in press interviews. She says that she never gave any indication of being suicidal, believes that she was stripped and left naked in her cell as retaliation for physically defending herself against a deputy who had laid his hand on her hip and made sexual jokes at her expense.

STARK COUNTY — A Stark County woman told Channel 3 News Investigator Tom Meyer that she was told to remove all her clothes inside the Stark County Jail after deputies made several off-color remarks.

Elizabeth fears reprisals for speaking out so she prefers we not use her last name.

She says a Stark County Sheriff’s deputy pulled her over one night for failing to signal during a lane change. Elizabeth says she had to undergo a field sobriety test. According to the officer’s incident report, she failed some aspects of the test. She was arrested for driving under the influence and taken to the station for further testing.

She was told to blow into a breathylyzer, but she suffers from asthma. When she failed to produce enough air, she says a deputy told her, Baby we both know you can blow harder than that. She says a second deputy laughed. The officer marked her as a refusal for not blowing harder.

Elizabeth decided to tell her story when she saw video of Hope Steffey strip searched by both male and female deputies. Steffey was left naked in a cell for 6 hours.

When Elizabeth was told to remove all her clothes, she did so voluntarily saying she worked at a medium security prison in Ohio and knew her clothes would be forcibly removed if she failed to obey.

The incident report says Elizabeth wanted to commit suicide. But she says that’s just not true. I’ve never been suicidal. I’m not suicidal. I was terrified, she told the Investigator. The Sheriff’s office said medical personnel decide if an inmate should be placed on suicide watch, not sheriff deputies.

Elizabeth was charged with drinking and driving, and assault for kicking a deputy. She decided to defend herself when a deputy placed his hands on her hips. She explained that she had been the victim of a sexual assault while employed at the prison.

The assault charge in the Stark County case was dropped on the condition she plead guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated. She reluctantly took the deal.

— Tom Meyer, WKYC News (2008-05-02): Investigator Exclusive: Strip search case prompts 5th woman to come forward

According to the local news video about Elizabeth (trigger warning: contains video of Hope Steffey being forcibly strip searched by male officers), Elizabeth was left locked in her cell, completely naked, for eight hours.

Lawyer David Malik says we’re seeing a pattern where apparently every woman who cries or gets emotional is deemed suicidal.

— Tom Meyer, WKYC 3 News (2008-02-29/2008-03-06): Strip Search: Four more women come forward with similar stories

And remember, if you are deemed suicidal, government cops and government jailers will take it for granted that the best way for armed Trained Professionals to handle the situation is to hurt you, hold you down, strip you against your will, subject you to an invasive search, and lock you in a cage and leave you there, naked, for six or eight hours at a stretch.

There is absolutely no conceivable excuse for treating anyone this way, ever. Whether man or woman, calm or belligerent, nice or nasty, crazy or sane. This is gang rape, professionalized and excused by Official Procedures. What is becoming clear is that Sheriff Tim Swanson and his goon squad not only have convinced themselves that this kind of brutality is sometimes acceptable, but also that they have an especially broad understanding of the sort of situation that calls for it, and that they are especially willing to use it as a form of humiliating retaliation, in order to teach uppity or unruly women a lesson, under color of the law. And then, to crown all, to further insult the victim by proclaiming that they did it all For Her Own Good. The Stark County sherriff’s office are nothing more and nothing less than a pack of dangerous sexual predators, and their uniforms and badges don’t make them any better than any other gang of serial rapists.

More on the Stark County, Ohio sheriff’s department and Hope Steffey:

See also:

In Their Own Words: “Just following orders” edition

Trigger warning. The following video of a local news story may be triggering for experiences of sexual assault.

Stark County Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson:

Will a local television channel try to defame the Stark County Sheriff’s Office over yet another story? Swanson said in a prepared statement Monday. Will the truth be told to the citizens or is there just a sensationalist aspect trying to be conveyed while creating another story?

With the media, there has been a lot of misinformation, Swanson said. We follow all guidelines by the Bureau of Adult Detention to avoid such actions and we following them to the tee.

… Swanson contends that his deputies followed procedures when handling Steffey.

Each individual knows how difficult it was getting into the profession and the difficulty meeting the requirements set forth day to day in their chosen careers, the release said. They constantly meet the required training, refresh themselves on changing laws, complete any and all mandated requirements placed on them by either the Federal, State or their own agency.

Swanson said there may have been 20 or 30 incidents like Steffey’s in the last 16 months, with people in jail who appear to be unstable.

In those situations, they are people who are not taking care of themselves and in those instances we have to take action, he said.

(For those that watched) the video, (the deputies) acted in accordance to our policies and procedures, he said, and I’m sorry that they have to go through such (a hassle) with the media and be ridiculed for something that they did exactly the way that they are supposed to do it.

— Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson, quoted by Michael Freeze, for the Massillon, Ohio Independent (2008-03-07): Sheriff’s department denies wrongdoing in strip-search case

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