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Transsexual Awarded $755,000 in Jail Strip Search

In May, 1999, a federal jury in San Francisco, California, awarded Victoria Schneider $755,000 in damages for a strip search she was subjected to in the San Francisco county jail in 1996. Schneider, a post operative male to female transsexual, was arrested on prostitution charges in 1996 and booked into the county jail as a male. Schneider told jail deputies she was a woman and feared for her safety if placed in a cell with men. She told deputies her gender was listed in the jail's computers based on a 1993 arrest.

The deputies refused to inspect their records and instead strip searched Schneider, examined her genitals and made her bend over and cough. Department policy prohibited such searches to determine the gender of arrestees.

Schneider filed suit and the jury ruled in her favor. The jury awarded Schneider $750,000 in compensatory damages for her emotional pain and suffering and $5,000 in punitive damages against deputy Fred Lew for ordering the search.

Schneider's attorney, Nanci Clarence, told media "They thought they could attack the victim because of the nature of her arrests, because of what she looks like and because she's poor and despised. She's the kind of person who people think they can pick on. In this case we proved that the sheriffs are bullies."

Associated Press

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