Rad Geek People's Daily

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Rapists in uniform #2: four more women come forward

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 16 years ago, in 2008, on the World Wide Web.

(Via Google News.)

Four more women in northern Ohio have come forward about unnecessary and sexually humiliating strip searches by the Stark County sheriff’s office.

As I mentioned about a month ago, Hope Steffey is suing the sheriff and a gang of male and female cops and prison guards, because a year and a half ago, after she was assaulted and knocked unconscious by her cousin in a domestic dispute, her family called 911 for help, and the cop who arrived decided that the assault victim was giving him too much lip while he tried to Investigate, so he beat her up, arrested her on a bogus disorderly conduct charge, and sent her down to jail where, once handcuffed and locked in a cage, she was held down by a gang of seven cops, including at least two men, and strip searched, over her screams of protest, while the male guards wrenched her (still handcuffed) arms behind her back. After that she was left naked in her jail cell for six hours. Sheriff Tim Swanson maintains that his hired thugs are allowed to use reasonable force to make an arrest and protect prisoners in their custody, where reasonable force is cop speak for grabbing an assault victim who you were supposedly dispatched to help (the cop was there because Steffey had been knocked unconscious by her cousin during a domestic dispute) and then slamming her face-down on the hood of your car, then cuffing her, sending her to jail, gang-rape-searching her with two male officers in the cell, and then leaving her naked in her cell for six hours. The excuse for that last part is that they had to protect her by raping her because she was crazy, by which they mean that she was visibly upset, and if you can be labeled crazy then that means that cops and prison guards can do any damn thing at all to you, no matter how violent, no matter how painful, and no matter how sexually humiliating, in order to protect the hell out of you, whether you want that protection or not.

The strip search was caught on tape and it hit the news. Because of the local and national attention to the case in the news media, four more women in northern Ohio have decided to come forward about similar experiences at the hands of Sheriff Tim Swanson’s rape gang / prison suicide watch. One of them is Valentina Dyshko, who was handcuffed and locked in a cage after she voluntarily turned herself in on a misdemeanor warrant for a miscommunication with the state over which home-schooling text-books the government deems good enough for her own children. When they handcuffed her and threw her in jail, she got upset, and she couldn’t speak English, and by God, she’s obviously a dangerous home-schooling criminal, so she was declared crazy and forced to undergo a strip-search and to wear nothing but a flimsy prison-issued gown that kept falling off her chest. For three days.

Dyshko says video of Steffey’s treatment reminded her of what she experienced 2 years ago inside the same jail.

Dyshko came to North Canton nine years ago, she says, to escape the fear of KGB persecution in Ukraine. Her ordeal inside the Stark County Jail stemmed from a home schooling issue. She says there was some confusion over the use of certain textbooks. It was all a big mix-up, said her attorney Dennis Niermann.

Dyskho was educating 2 of her 8 children at home. She received a notice from the Stark County Sheriff about a warrant for her arrest from the Stark County Family Court. When Dyshko arrived at the Sheriff’s office, she says she was quickly handcuffed and thrown in jail on a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

After this mother of 8 spent 3 days behind bars, a judge reviewed her case and quickly dismissed the case.

Lawyers for Dyhsko say she had to remove all her clothes because someone inside the jail determined she was suicidal. Dyshko says she’s never been suicidal. She complained to Channel 3 News that the gown she was given in the jail kept falling down, and at times, exposed her naked chest to male guards. She was asked to remove her clothes and her undergarments. What’s the purpose of that? It’s demeaning, said Niermann.

Since the Hope Steffey case made headlines, 4 more women, including Dyshko have come forward to report similar stories. 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 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. 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.

Further reading:

13 replies to Rapists in uniform #2: four more women come forward Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Ben Kilpatrick

    I can’t see any point where anything that could be meaningfully called rape occurred.

  2. Asha

    Spoken by a man. It’s called empathy, Ben.

  3. smally

    In other news, officer Alex Park was judged by a jury of his peers to have been perfectly entitled to stalk and finally sexually assault a woman. He’s a cop, she’s a stripper, so she must have made him do it.

  4. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-03-08 – In Their Own Words: “Just following orders” edition:

    […] GT 2008-03-07: Rapists in uniform #2: four more women come forward […]

  5. Ben Kilpatrick

    What in the world is that supposed to mean? Being stripped and searched simply is not the same thing as being raped? And so what if it’s “spoken by a man?” If you started talking about the drug war, I wouldn’t reply “Spoken by a woman (hence her opinion is somehow less relevant because she’s much less likely to be thrown in prison or otherwise directly affected by it.)”

  6. Ben Kilpatrick

    In the second sentence, that should be a period, not a question mark.

  7. Laura J.

    As a woman, if I were treated this way, I would feel that I had been violated, and if some other women tells me that she feels violated after such treatment, I’m inclined to believe her.

  8. Laura J.


    The definition of the word “rape” in English is not and has not ever been limited to the current most common sense of “to forcibly penetrate with the male sexual organs”, or whatever similarly physically specific definition it is you seem to be looking for here. Rad Geek’s usage of the term is completely consistent with the well-established meanings “to seize by force”, “to rob, strip, plunder (a place or person)”, “to carry off (a person, esp. a woman) by force”. (These latter three are paraphrased from the Oxford English dictionary.) If the point of fact that these women were seized against their will, stripped of their clothing, and locked in cages for hours or days on end is not disputed, then certainly rape has occurred in these instances in some senses of the word. The sexual humiliation experienced by these women because of these gratuitous insults to their dignity as human beings with a right to privacy and a right to freedom that they did nothing to deserve losing is, in my opinion, sufficient to justify the additional connotations of sexual violation that the term “rape” usually carries being used by Rad Geek in this instance.

  9. Rad Geek


    I want you to review this video before you read my remarks. It will help put them in context.

    What happened in this video is sexual assault. That ought to be obvious just from watching it. I don’t know about you, but I cannot watch it without shaking and wanting to cry. I would never show this video at all, because it is the video of a sexual assault, except that the victim of that assault chose to release it so that other people would know what happened to her.

    If the gang of men and women forcing Hope Steffey down, wrenching her arms behind her back, stripping her, and groping her over her screams of protest, had been anybody at all other than deputized agents of the State, this video would be Exhibit A in an open-and-shut case for felony sexual assault. The precise statutory terminology that would be used varies from state to state, mostly on the basis of things that don’t actually matter much to anyone other than legislators and lawyers (what body parts were used where and when); in the state of Ohio, it most closely matches the statute on Gross Sexual Imposition. In other states it might be classified as Sexual Abuse or Sexual Assault in various degrees. If you want to dicker about whether this meets the legal criteria for a charge of Rape, as opposed to some other form of felony sexual assault, I can’t say I see any possible interest or utility in that discussion. The language I write in is English, not legalese, and my point is a moral one, not one about legal taxonomy. I can see no reason at all to make a moral distinction separating what happened in this video from standard issue, police-blotter Rape in the First Degree.

    Hope Steffey was tortured and sexually humiliated by a violent gang of prison guards. She says that she felt raped by the experience. The video makes it unbearably clear that she is not using that word carelessly; she is speaking as a survivor who knows precisely what happened to her. She has every moral right to call it rape, and, since she does, I will call it that too.

· April 2008 ·

  1. Ben Kilpatrick

    I agree that it’s rape as rape is defined. But it isn’t rape as most people use the word. For example, if a person says, “I was raped,” anyone who hears her say that will think of something along the lines of the definition given in the Louisiana RS, to wit: “the act of anal, oral, or vaginal sexual intercourse with a male or female person committed without the person’s lawful consent.” I’m saying that it isn’t rape in the most commonly prevailing definition.

· June 2008 ·

— 2009 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-01-31 – Rapists in uniform #5: on invasions of privacy:

    […] GT 2008-03-07: Rapists in uniform #2: four more women come forward […]

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