It seems the long arm of the Texas law believes it is all part of the job to sexually assault its citizens in the name of marijuana prohibition.
It was revealed, earlier this week, in an article from the Houston Chronicle that a lawsuit has been filed against the Harris County Police Department, stemming from an incident a couple of years ago in which a cop physically violated 23-year-old Charnesia Corley in search for marijuana.
The lawsuit, which was submitted by her attorney, Samuel Cammack, claims an officer “penetrated her vagina” in a warrantless body cavity search during a roadside traffic stop.
As if the thought of police touching people inappropriately along the side of the road on a wild-eyed witch hunt for a substance that is now legal in over half the states across the nation is not horrifying enough, the report indicates that this violation, which Cammack calls a “rape by cop,” was all done for nothing. Only a small amount of marijuana was found.
Here’s how the whole rotten scene unfolded:
Corley, who was just 21 years old, at the time, was pulled over in June of 2015 for running a red light. It didn’t take long for officers to suggest that they could smell marijuana in the vehicle, which eventually led to the discovery of about a half a gram of weed.
The two cops then decided to take the search a step further by calling out a female officer to conduct a strip search.
Once the female cop arrived, Corley was told to take off her pants. When she refused, the officers “forcibly threw Ms. Corley to the ground, while she was still handcuffed, pinned her down with her legs spread apart, threatened to break her legs, and without consent penetrated her vagina in a purported search for marijuana,” the lawsuit reads.
In 2015, Corely told CNN that the officer “told me to bend over… and she proceeded to stick her fingers in me.”
Corley was initially charged with marijuana possession and resisting arrest, but the charges were eventually dropped.
A Harris County grand jury indicted the two officers (William Strong and Ronaldine Pierre) last year, but the county district attorney’s office, just a couple of weeks ago, dismissed all of the charges—right before their trial was scheduled to get underway.
“Criminal charges are no longer pending against two of the deputies involved in this case,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a statement.
“Deputy W. Strong, who did not actively participate in the search of the suspect in this case, will be allowed to return to patrol duties. Deputy R. Pierre, who initiated the search, will remain in her current assignment within the Communications and Technology Bureau,” he added.
Robin McIlhenny, an attorney for one of the officers, maintains that her client did nothing wrong.
“She [Corley] was never penetrated, she was never violated in that way or inappropriately handled,” Mcllhenny told the Houston Chronicle.
It is for this reason that Cammack is now requesting a special prosecutor to reopen the case to ensure justice is served.
“It is undoubted that they sexually assaulted her,” Cammack said, according to Reason. “They put their fingers inside her vagina. You can’t pull someone over, think you might find something, and do that to them.”
In an effort to draw some much needed attention to the fact that Corley is the victim of a roadside sexual assault over marijuana, Cammack has released a dash cam video of the night in question, which he hopes will generate enough backlash to get the case picked up.
The full video can been seen here.
It is important to point out that this is not an isolated incident.
In 2015, a lawsuit was filed against the Texas Department of Pubic Safety after an officer sexually violated a woman by the name of Jennifer Stelly in search of marijuana.
“She started going into my clothing and she penetrated areas that I don’t wish to disclose at this point,” Stelly told KPRC in Houston. “I was scared. I was violated. I didn’t know what to do.”
No marijuana was ever found.
In Texas, the possession of anything less than two ounces of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 180 days in jail and fines reaching $2,000.
Although there have been several attempts in the state legislature to eliminate the criminal penalties associated with this offense—a move that would hopefully prevent cops from fingering and raping people along the side of the road—lawmakers simply cannot seem to get it done.
There is some hope that lawmakers will have more success with this issue in the next legislative session.