Strip Search of a Stark County, Ohio female, Hope Steffey…ILLEGAL!
October 20, 2006 will be embedded in Hope Steffey’s mind, body and soul for the rest of her life.
Never to minimize Hope Steffey’s illegal experience with officers of the law…..females are being victimized by law enforcement officers every damn day. Unfortunately they are scared, do not have the support, legal representation or advocacy that they so much deserve hence life goes on within departments. Well, Stark County in Ohio has had a major wake-up call and I pray that other police departments and sheriff departments will be called out for illegal actions.
Hope Steffey was assaulted by another woman in Paris Township, Stark County, Ohio. A 911 call resulted in Officer Gurlea with the Stark County Sheriff’s department being dispatched to the scene. Gurlea questioned Steffey, asked her for her identification, but she mistakenly gave the officer her deceased sister’s driver’s license which Hope had kept as a personal memento of her sister. When Hope “immediately noticed her mistake” she asked Officer Gurlea to return her sister’s license, but Gurlea refused. While trying to explain to Gurlea, she “begged” for the return but he still refused.
Hope had been assaulted, with facial bleeding and a bald spot on her head where her hair has been pulled out by the woman who allegedly assaulted her. Hope became visibly upset with what was transpiring. Hope’s cousin, Trinette Zorger reminded Gurlea that Hope was the VICTIM, she had been knocked unconscious and was acting “uncharacteristically loud and upset.”
Officer Gurlea still refused to acknowledge Hope’s injuries or call for medical help. When Hope asked Gurlea again for her sister’s license back the Officer turned and angrily responded, “Shut up about your dead sister.” Hope reminded Gurlea that her sister was here, she was someone (meaning that she was once alive and her life counted and that she meant the world to her).
Gurlea exploded into rage and without provocation turned toward Hope and physically slammed her face into his cruiser, breaking one of her teeth. He pinned her against his cruiser with his pelvic area, twisted Hope’s arm high up behind her back, which inflicted extreme pain in which her reaction showed.
Officer Gurlea then picked up Hope up off the ground and slammed her, face-first, into the dirt road, causing her nose to hit hard against the ground, causing cuts and bruises. Hope’s chest and lungs were jammed into the ground by the entire weight of Gurlea’s body and knees, blood began streaming down her face and neck. With his knees in her back, Zorger (her cousin) saw that Hope couldn’t breath. She screamed at Gurlea, “She can’t breathe, let her go, you’re hurting her.”
Steffey was handcuffed and thrown in the back of Gurlea’s cruiser, still no medical attention was obtained for her. Hope Steffey was on her way to the Stark County Safety Building (jail) and what follows is of the most upsetting nature.
Hope was taken into a room and told to face the wall where approximately six deputies/guards/staff, some male, surrounded her in the small room. She was asked if she any weapons or sharp objects, Hope replied “no.” Hope was told to stand on a line, face front and answer a nurse’s questions. She complied. With no warning, no words were spoken by Hope’s assailants, her legs were knocked out from under her and face was jammed hard into the floor.
The video below obtained is graphic, has offensive language and upsetting…but you must see and listen to Hope’s pleads, unnecessary abuse and ILLEGAL strip search. You will never forget this video footage. Yes, this search was clearly sexual abuse and assault, and even rape.
Mind you that the title of the video is to somehow put into your mind that the strip search was for her benefit – not others! “SUICIDE PRECAUTIONS…” Cut me a break!
I know that each of you at this point is staring at your monitors, the video footage is replaying in your minds and you are all asking, “how in the world could this happen?” Hope was truly VICTIMIZED BEYOND WORDS!
Now imagine if it was your wife, your daughter, or your mother getting forcefully stripped after calling the police for help! It has now been discovered that at least 128 women between 1999 and 2007 were strip-searched, forced to remove their clothing or placed on suicide watch or homicide watch or “naked detention” at Sheriff Swanson’s jail. Hope was held in a cell for six hours, covering her body in toilet paper to keep warm and to prevent anyone from seeing her naked. During this time she was not allowed to use a phone or seek medical assistance for injuries sustained.
Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson denied all charges. The sheriff’s policy requires officers conducting any strip search to be of the same sex, the sheriff contended that the tactic used on Hope was not actually a strip search. Then what the hell would you call it? Personally…I call it rape! Male officers removed her panties, held her down, used force and in my opinion the female officers were just as much at fault – they did not order the males to leave according to policy and procedure set forth. For God’s sake if they needed the males for assistance with Hope they would be right outside of the cell door! And, did you notice that the last two officers leaving the cell were males?
Officers, male and female, are taught in Basic Law Enforcement Training a move called, “Point of Domination” – so that’s a crock or perhaps they missed this training! Ladies, if you can’t do your jobs and subdue a female prisoner who is not under any influence; then you are in the wrong damn field! Or get behind a desk and push papers as you certainly do not belong in the “field” not knowing what you are doing nor how to do it.
Hope was told by a guard that her charges were “resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.” Wouldn’t you resist basically being raped, clothes being torn off you, not communicated any charges against you? OH HELL YES YOU WOULD! And what threat did this small woman pose? She was at their mercy – but no respect or was she dignified at any time throughout her entire ordeal? NO!
Hope Steffey filed suit against the Stark Count sheriff, deputies, and commissioners. The good news is that U.S. District Court Judge David Dowd in a court order that the plaintiff’s, including Sheriff Tim Swanson and the Stark County Board of Commissions, “have entered into a resolution of the plaintiff’s case against those defendants, reserving only a determination by the Court as to the amount of attorney fees and costs.” The amount of the settlement, however, is undisclosed, a rather strange thing given that it would appear that the cost of the police abuse of Hope Steffey will be born by the taxpayers. Don’t they have the right to know just how much their police have cost them? Since when does government impropriety get to be swept under the rug so that the citizens, for whom the cops exists, are left to wonder?
There has been no admission of guilt by Sheriff Swanson nor the department. County officials had no reaction either. Personally, I am shocked that all from the top down are in law enforcement – if they are at this time, including the county officials. Talk about the good ole boys.
The good news is……It is great to hear that Hope Steffey received a settlement for the harm done in this shocking case, though disappointing that the local sheriff would still hide from what happened. Again, Hope Steffey will live with this ordeal the rest of her life! There is no amount of money/settlement that will or can erase this experience.
It is a shame that the full array of what went horribly wrong won’t be aired publicly as a message to police everywhere. And it’s a shame that the individual cops involved WON’T have to pay personally for what they did do this young woman and others.
It’s not everything one could want in a settlement but it is better than giving these sick, perverted, disgraceful cops (males and females) medals. Sad that a few bad apples spoil the bunch.
Take care and STAY SAFE!