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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.

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