Texas troopers charged for roadside body cavity search
Two Texas state troopers responsible for a roadside body cavity search of two women have been indicted on charges of sexual assault and oppression. One of the troopers was also charged with theft for taking one of the victim’s prescription medications.
“I was molested, I was violated, I was humiliated in front of other traffic,” one of the victims told WFAA last December. “I had to watch my niece go through the same thing and I could not protect her at that point.”
After two Texas women claimed they were molested by state troopers last summer, they filed a lawsuit against the perpetrators, stating to have been violated in the most horrific sense. The troopers had conducted an inappropriate and humiliating roadside body cavity search of 38-year-old Angel Dobbers and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley Dobbs, after pulling them over for littering.
The younger woman had allegedly thrown a cigarette butt out of the car window, which is illegal in the state of Texas. State Trooper David Farrell proceeded to pull over the car and called his colleague, Trooper Kelley Helleson, to search the women for drugs.
Using the same latex glove on both women, Helleson searched their anuses and vaginas and irritated one of the women’s cysts. No narcotics or contraband were ever found, and the women filed a lawsuit against the troopers for violating their bodies.
“Angel Dobbs was overwhelmed with emotion and a feeling of helplessness and reacted stating that Helleson had just violated her in a most horrific manner,” the lawsuit reads.
One of the trooper’s dash-mounted cameras captured the incident on tape, which was published online by the Dallas Morning News. After the video spread on the Internet, the troopers were suspended from their positions and Helleson was fired shortly thereafter.
But it wasn’t until recently that the troopers were charged with any crimes. The Department of Public Safety is still investigating the incident, but after the women appeared before the Dallas County Grand Jury on Friday, they were read their indictments.
Trooper Helleson has been charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of official oppression. Trooper Farrell has also been charged with theft after one of the women complained that her prescription bottle, containing the painkiller hydrocodone, went missing after the search, CBS-11 reports.
Attorney Bob Baskett, who is representing Helleson in the case, said the charges filed against his client are ‘completely bogus.’
“I have no explanation for it, except for the grand jury disregarded the law,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “She got consent from these women to conduct a search inside their clothes.”
Baskett also alleges that Helleson passed a polygraph test, during which she alleged that she had not ‘penetrated’ the victims’ genitals.
Scott Palmer, who represents the victims in the case, declined to comment to reporters on Friday, but previously said that the roadside body cavity search was a possible violation of the Fourth Amendment.
“This is outside the constitutional grounds by a mile. It’s not even close. This has to stop. These two need to be stopped,” he previously told NBC.
“[Littering] is a Class C misdemeanor. It does not justify any type of pat-down, let alone an invasive search of cavities of women,” he added.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has not publicly commented on the incident. Helleson maintains she acted appropriately and is appealing her termination from the Texas Department of Public Safety.