Dec 21, 2012

(CBS) Two Texas women say police subjected them to an illegal and humiliating body cavity search, after they were pulled over for allegedly tossing cigarette butts out of the window of their vehicle while on a road trip to Oklahoma.

Angel Dobbs, 38, and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley, have filed a federal lawsuit against Texas State Troopers and the head of their department, CBS DFW reports

The lawsuit states that State Trooper David Farrell claimed he smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle and called in a female trooper to do a cavity search to see if the women were hiding anything illegal. He allegedly made the call prior to establishing any probable cause or suspicion that the women were involved in illegal activity beyond littering.

While waiting for the female trooper, Kelley Helleson, the lawsuit alleges that Farrell searched the women's vehicle without asking their consent.

The lawsuit claims Farrell told Helleson he called her in to do the cavity search because the women were acting strangely.

The women said Helleson proceeded to use her fingers to search their genital areas, using the same latex glove on both women, on the side of the road in full view of other passing vehicles, CBS DFW reports.

The incident was reportedly recorded on a dash-mounted camera in Farrell's police car. In video acquired by the station, the female trooper can be seen feeling around Dobbs' bra. Then, Dobbs says, Helleson opened the back of her jogging pants. "At this point, I'm in clear shock. I can't even believe this is happening."

Without changing her latex glove, Trooper Helleson began searching Ashley Dobbs, reports CBS DFW.

"I was molested, I was violated. I was humiliated," the younger Dobbs reportedly said later of the incident.

Police found nothing on the women and performed a roadside sobriety test, which Angel Dobbs passed. The women were then given a warning for littering and sent on their way.

The women's attorney, Scott Palmer, says the search was a violation. "We believe both troopers Farrell and Helleson displayed a reckless and callous disregard for these women's constitutional rights and their safety."

The Dobbs women reportedly say that when they filed a complaint with DPS supervisors, they were told if they filed an affidavit, DPS would turn around and file charges against them for lying.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement the Texas Rangers have "onducted an inquiry surrounding the events" and have turned the results over to the Dallas County DA's office.


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