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Strip Searches Result In $7,500 Settlement

On April 25, 2008 the State of Washington agreed to pay $7,500 to settle a suit by three prisoners who alleged that they were strip searched in a degrading manner.

The suit, filled by Willeen Ballard, Deborah Monroe, and Becky Richter alleged that Karen Heyer, a guard at Washington Corrections Center for Women, forced them to undergo strip searches that were performed in a particularly intrusive, humiliating manner.

After returning from a visit, for example, Ballard alleged that Heyer forced her to “spread her vagina open twice.” Ballard initially refused to comply, but relented after being threatened with “hole” time. Monroe was forced to undergo a similar invasive search. Following a visit, Heyer made Monroe spread her anus and vagina open so Heyer could look inside both. Richter was forced by Heyer to “spread her legs in such a manner that her entire vagina was visible” following a visit.

The state settled the plaintiffs’ § 1983 claims for $7,500 split equally between the three plantiffs. The plaintiffs were represented by Bret Purtzer of Monte & Hester, a Tacoma, Washington firm.

See: Ballard v. State of Washington, No. 07-2-08-745-7 (Sup. Ct. of Washington).

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Related legal case

Ballard v. State of Washington