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$150,000 Settlement Paid in D.C. Minor’s False Arrest Lawsuit

The District of Columbia (D.C.) paid $150,000 to settle the lawsuit of Steven A. Douglass, a minor, for false arrest and imprisonment while his school class was on a “field trip” to the D.C. Jail.

On April 9, 2001 Douglass, along with about 10 other children from W. Bruce Evans Middle School, was on a tour of the D.C. Jail when a guard asked the teacher, Ms. Jones, “which students are trouble?” She pointed at Douglass and said “Steven has a nasty attitude.” The guard then asked an inmate, while pointing at Douglass, if he could “spend the night with him,” and “if he had a dress Douglass could wear.” The inmate replied “yes, and it will fit real good.” At this point they separated Douglass from the rest of his class, grabbing him by the back of his neck, and taking him to the “release and detention area.” In a small room there, the guards told him to “take off his clothes” or suffer physical harm.

While adult prisoners watched, Douglass was forced to remove his clothes, then told to “turn around, bend over, and touch your toes.” Douglass complied. He was then ordered to “hold open your butt” so they could “check inside it.” Douglass complied. He was then ordered to “lift up his privates,” and again complied. After strip searching him, guards and prisoners were laughing as guards put him in D.C. Jail clothes and locked him in a jail cell for approximately 15 minutes.

After the “tour” at the D.C. Jail was over, Douglas went to report the incident to his school principal Diane Brown and she replied, “Good, they should have kept you overnight!”

His complaint alleged assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, negligence, negligent hiring and retention, negligent supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud and civil conspiracy. Henrietta Douglass, his legal guardian, accepted settlement on January 21, 2002. They were represented by Baltimore, Maryland Attorneys Sidney S. Friedman and Bruce L. Richardson.

See: Douglass v. District of Columbia, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, Case No. 01-cv-01878.

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Related legal case

Douglass v. District of Columbia