Woman alleges illegal strip-search by LaSalle Co. Sheriff

September 30, 2013

Police in Marseilles arrested Dana Holmes for DUI back in May. She has since pleaded guilty and received court supervision for that charge. But while in custody she alleges officers with Lasalle County illegally strip-searched her and left her naked in a jail cell for more than an hour.

Four sheriff's officers carry 32-year-old Dana Holmes into a LaSalle County jail cell. The three men and one woman put her face down on the floor and proceed to strip off her clothes.

It's all captured on a security camera in a corner of the padded cell. They take her clothes leaving her alone and naked in the cell, until throwing blankets inside a few minutes later.

"I was terrified. I felt helpless. I was scared and I lay there crying . . . I just prayed," said Holmes.

Holmes, from Coal City, was in LaSalle County for a wedding and earlier was stopped for DUI by Marseilles police. They reportedly found her almost three times over the legal limit. But the problems allegedly began after she arrived at the county jail.

While patting her down, she can be seen moving her leg slightly, and that's when the officers surrounded her and pinned her to the ground before carrying her by her arms and legs into the jail cell.

Her attorney has filed a lawsuit against the sheriff, the officers, and the county, alleging the officers intentionally and gratuitously humiliated, degraded, and dehumanized the plaintiff.

Attorney Terry Ekl says under statute, only an officer of the same gender is allowed to strip search an inmate after getting permission from a supervisor and only in a secluded area.

"These are on-duty deputy sheriffs humiliating and groping a female inmate. It makes you wonder, were these guys ever trained?" said Terry Ekl, attorney.

Holmes says she was cooperative and never argued with the officers.

ABC7's John Garcia asks, "What do you hope comes from this?"

"I hope they lose their jobs. No one should be treated that way," said Holmes.

ABC7 reached out to the LaSalle County Sheriff on Monday night for comment on the lawsuit, but so far he has not responded. The attorney representing Dana Holmes says he plans to meet with the LaSalle County State's Attorney's office about possible criminal charges against the officers.

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