Deputy Forces Public Body Cavity Probe on Young Woman to Look for Weed

By Victoria Kim 08/12/15

Charnesia Corley is seeking retribution for a "blatant" violation of her Fourth Amendment rights.

Charnesia Corley
Charnesia Corley Photo via

A young woman from Houston, Texas, is seeking retribution for a recent incident with local police that the ACLU called a “blatant” and invasive violation of the Fourth Amendment, the Houston Chronicle reports.

On June 21 around 10:30 p.m., Charnesia Corley was pulled over by a male deputy for allegedly running a stop sign. According to a spokesperson for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HSCO), the deputy asked Corley to step out of her vehicle because he smelled marijuana.

When no marijuana was found after almost an hour of searching, the deputy returned to his patrol car, where Corley was handcuffed. He told Corley he smelled marijuana inside her vehicle and proceeded to call a female deputy to conduct a body cavity probe.

The female deputy arrived at the Texaco gas station parking lot where they were parked and ordered Corley out of the patrol car, telling her to pull her pants down. Corley resisted because she had no underwear on, but the officer searched her anyway.

According to Corley’s attorney, Sam Cammack, the officers used excessive force, throwing her to the ground when she protested and pulling her legs apart to conduct the probe. “It’s undeniable that the search is unconstitutional,” said Cammack.

“I feel like they sexually assaulted me. I really do,” said Corley. “I feel disgusted, downgraded, humiliated.”

The 21-year-old maintains that she did not consent to the cavity search, but according to HSCO spokesperson, Thomas Gilleland, one deputy wrote in the report that Corley said they could “strip search her if I needed to.”

According to Robert Goerlitz, president of the Harris County Sheriff Deputies Organization, the public cavity search is not common protocol for the sheriff’s office. Goerlitz said in his years of training deputies, he has never taught a roadside cavity search.

Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director of the ACLU of Texas, said the warrantless cavity search was a “blatant” violation of the Fourth Amendment. “A body cavity search without a warrant would be constitutionally suspect,” she said. “But a body cavity search by the side of the road … I can’t imagine a circumstance where that would be constitutional.”

Cammack and Corley have filed a complaint with the HSCO Internal Affairs Division. “I’ve defended law enforcement. I don’t jump on the bandwagon of trying to persecute police officers,” said Cammack. “But what these officers did out there at the Texaco station was unconscionable. I’ve worked many big cases and I’ve never seen that.”

Corley is charged with two misdemeanors, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana. Police say they found .02 ounces (about half a gram) of marijuana on her, according to KTRK, though where they found the marijuana was unspecified.

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