Thursday, March 5, 2009

Woman who called 911 assaulted by police; police suing TV station that aired story

Hope Steffey called 911 after being assaulted by her cousin and when the police arrived, Hope was mistakenly treated as the perpetrator. She was arrested, taken to jail, and subjected to a humiliating full-body strip search by both male and female officers, violating the sheriff department's own policy that a strip search be conducted only by officers of the same sex. Mrs. Steffey was then left naked in a cell for six hours, wrapping herself in toilet paper to stay warm and prevent others from seeing her naked body.

To watch the video, click on the link below. However, it is disturbing and contains graphic images and horrifying sounds. It might not be for all MediaWatch readers.

Youtube: Hope Steffey Arrest and Body Search

Since the broadcast of the video, obtained legally by Steffey's lawyer, the Stark County sheriff's deputies,who can be seen in the video, are filing a lawsuit against WKYC stating that they are victims of one-sided reporting. The sheriff's office insists that deputies removed Steffey's clothing as a suicide precaution on the orders of a psychologist after she is said to have made a statement to a nurse that indicated she might harm herself. They are claiming defamation and invasion of privacy.

The sheriff's office also contends that Meyer ignored "all the facts that interfere with his sensationalized story and one-sided story." They argue that Mrs. Steffey's previous arrest and conviction - misdemeanor intoxication, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct - is relevant to her treatment by the deputies. Brian Zimmerman, one of the attorneys representing the deputies, said that the reports were "purely for ratings and for advertising and promotion."

Hope Steffey is apparently not the only one who has suffered such treatment. Five more women later came forward with similar allegations. But according to the police, each of the female detainees, like Steffey (they say), threatened suicide, which is what prompted the strip search.

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