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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:

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 #2: four more women come forward

(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:

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