Texas Trooper Being Sued in Irving Body Cavity Search Case has Been Suspended
By Kevin Krause
December 20, 2012
From The Dallas Morning News
The officer being sued for a body cavity search has been suspended, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said trooper Kelley Helleson is suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation
The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office says the case is being investigated by the office’s public integrity division and will go before a grand jury in January.
Two Irving women are suing two state troopers and the head of their department in federal court, alleging they were subjected to an illegal and humiliating “roadside body cavity search” during a traffic stop.
Angel Dobbs, 38, and her niece, Ashley Dobbs, 24, said the search occurred on State Highway 161 in or near Irving on the night of July 13.
They claim that a female trooper, Kelley Helleson, used her fingers to search their anuses and vaginas — using the same latex glove — while on the side of the road in full view of passing vehicles.
They said David Farrell, a state trooper, had called Helleson to the scene after stopping the women’s vehicle and questioning them about marijuana. Farrell told them he stopped them after seeing them throw cigarette butts out of the window, according to the lawsuit.
He asked for the search because he said the women were “acting weird,” the suit said.
Farrell searched their vehicle for marijuana but didn’t find any, they said. He then tried to “morph this situation into a DWI investigation,” the lawsuit said. Angel Dobbs passed a roadside sobriety test and the women were given warnings for littering, the suit said.
During the search of Angel Dobbs’ anus, Helleson irritated one of the cysts she suffers from, the lawsuit said, causing her “severe and continuing pain and discomfort.”
“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 said.
The women also are suing Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, saying he was aware of previous problems and complaints about “unlawful strip searches, cavity searches and the like” yet failed to do anything about it.
DPS spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said the department does not discuss pending litigation but issued the following statement:
“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.”
A DA’s Office spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.
Scott H. Palmer, an attorney for the women, said the entire incident was caught on video from one of the trooper’s dash-mounted cameras.
“You can see what’s happening clearly,” he said.
Palmer said the Texas Rangers investigated his clients’ complaints but no action was taken against the troopers.
Palmer said the searches were basically a “sexual assault” on the side of the road.
“No one’s ever seen the likes of this,” he said. “We can’t let them get away with it.”