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A Texas woman and her niece are suing a pair of Texas state troopers and the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety for what they claim was an unconstitutional and "humiliating" roadside body cavity search earlier this year.
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According to NBC News, 38-year-old Angel Dobbs and 24-year-old Ashley Dobbs from Irving, Tex., were driving along Highway 161 on July 13, when they were stopped for allegedly littering by State Trooper David Farrell.
"In the dashcam video released by the women and their attorney, Farrell can be heard telling the women they would both be cited for littering for throwing cigarette butts out of the car," the news agency reports.
After stopping the women, Farrell -- who claims to have "smelled marijuana" in their vehicle -- reportedly questioned the women about the drug and searched their car for traces of pot.
The Dobbs' lawsuit filed on Monday, according to the Dallas Morning News, claims that the state trooper had tried to "morph this situation into a DWI investigation." The older woman, however, is said to have passed a roadside sobriety test and Farrell did not find any marijuana in the car.
The trooper then returned to his vehicle and called female state trooper Kelley Helleson to the scene. He said he wanted Helleson to search the women because they were "acting weird," according to the dashcam recording.
Angel and Ashley claim that they were then subjected to a very public and "humiliating" roadside body cavity search. They both claim that they were not warned beforehand that the "intrusive" search was about to take place.
The lawsuit alleges that Helleson used her fingers to search inside each woman's genital areas. The suit also says that the trooper did not change the glove she was wearing and performed the search without consent.
The body cavity search is also said to have taken place "on the side of a public freeway illuminated by lights from the police vehicle in full view of the passing public," the women alleged, according to KVUE.
"I was molested, I was violated, I was humiliated in front of other traffic," said Angel. "I had to watch my niece go through the same thing and I could not protect her at that point."
Angel also alleges that while Helleson searched her anus, the state trooper "irritated one of the cysts she suffers from," causing her "severe and continuing pain and discomfort."
"I don't think anybody needs to have to feel, or go through what we went through," Ashley told NBC News. "It crosses my mind every day. It's humiliating."
Scott H. Palmer, the women's attorney, said that the searches were "basically a sexual assault" on the side of a road, according to Dallas Morning News.
Other than Helleson and Farrell, the women are also suing Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
McCraw is being sued, "for being aware of a long standing pattern of police misconduct involving unlawful strip searches, cavity searches and the like, yet [failing] to take corrective action," KVUE reports.
“Following the traffic stop that occurred in July of this year and based on a citizen’s complaint, the Texas Rangers conducted an inquiry surrounding the events, and has since turned the results over to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office for review," said DPS spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger to the Dallas Morning News.
On Wednesday, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office said that the Dobbs' case is being investigated and will go before a grand jury next month.
Watch footage of the body cavity search here:
WARNING: Some viewers may find content in this video disturbing
Note: The name of the male state trooper has alternately been spelled "Farrell" and "Ferrell" by different news agencies. In this post, we have followed the spelling used by the Dallas Morning News.
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