In Massachusetts, Fall River resident Alyssa Bolduc, is suing Massachusetts State Trooper Allyson Powell for compensatory damages over a strip search that took place during a traffic stop in Dartmouth in March 2007.
Bolduc, 18, says that she and three friends were pulled over because of an unlit headlight. Bolduc says that she had unbuttoned the top button on her pants because she and her friends had just finished eating at the Dartmouth Wendy’s and she was full from her meal.
Although the police stop was for the headlight, Bolduc says that the police officers asked her and her friends if they had drugs or any prior criminal offenses.
Police noticed her unbuttoned pants and requested a female police officer to do a strip search. Bolduc says she was forced to stand naked from her waist down to her ankles in front of her friends and motorists-she says police told her to take under underwear off too. Officer Powell, wearing leather gloves, then allegedly conducted an “internal and manual body cavity search” of the teenager’s genitals. The teenager was not given a ticket or arrested following the search.
However, two of companions received traffic tickets. Christine Moniz was issued a $35 ticket for driving without a license, and Ryan O’Connell was issued a $35 ticket for letting someone without a driver’s license drive the car.
Massachusetts’s police strip search policy says that searches must be conducted in a police department facility unless circumstances necessitate otherwise and always in an area of complete privacy, away from public view. Police strip searches must also involve no touching.
Bolduc filed a formal complaint the day after the March 7, 2007 incident. An internal affairs report found evidence that Officer Powell violated police policies. The Massachusetts State Police Division of Standards and Training is disciplining her.
Lawsuit filed against Mass State Trooper, Herald News, April 30, 2008
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New England: Massachusetts: Strip-Search Settlement, New York Times, June 1, 2002
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