LaSalle County Settles Strip Search Lawsuits

County will also change policies, training procedures in wake of class-action suit

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    Class-action lawsuit with six defendants will be settled for $355,000. NBC 5 Investigates' Chris Coffey reports. (Published Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014)

    LaSalle County officials on Tuesday agreed to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars and change policies and training protocols to settle lawsuits filed after a female inmate claimed she was forcibly stripped of her clothes and left to sit in a cell naked.

    The class-action lawsuit with six plaintiffs will be settled for $355,000, attorney Terry Ekl said. Dana Holmes of Coal City will receive the bulk of the settlement -- $125,000. Four others will each receive $30,000. A fifth plaintiff will receive $10,000.

    Surveillance: Woman Strip-Searched During DUI Arrest

    [CHI] Surveillance: Woman Strip-Searched During DUI Arrest
    This video surveillance was provided by the attorneys of an Illinois woman suing LaSalle County after she says she was forcibly stripped by four officers and left in a jail cell without her clothes when she was arrested for drunken driving. The video has been blurred to remove nudity. (Published Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013)

    Ekl will receive $100,000 for his work on the case.

    Holmes was taken into custody on a DUI charge in May 2013. Surveillance video showed that she was removed of her clothing by four deputies and ordered to sit in a padded cell. The footage showed deputies fingerprinting and photographing Holmes more than an hour after the strip search, covering her in only a blanket.

    Woman Sues LaSalle County After Strip Search in DUI Arrest

    [CHI] Woman Sues LaSalle County After Strip Search in DUI Arrest
    A 33-year-old woman is suing LaSalle County after jail surveillance cameras captured four deputies forcibly stripping her and leaving her in a cell without her clothes when she was arrested for drunken driving. (Published Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013)

    "There was an unwritten policy that if someone was combative in the opinion of the guards, they could take their clothes off and put them in a padded cell and that's been going on for 40 years,” Ekl said.

    Special Prosecutor Ordered in Jail Strip Investigation

    [CHI] Special Prosecutor Ordered in Jail Strip Investigation
    A judge orders a special prosecutor to look into allegations that LaSalle County deputies stripped a woman without good reason. Chris Coffey reports. (Published Monday, Oct 28, 2013)

    Ekl said the deputies appeared to have violated state law for strip searching by not getting permission from a commander and not having reasonable belief Holmes had a weapon or a controlled substance.

    As a part of the settlement, county officials said they'll use strip searches in many cases only as a last result and they'll maintain all surveillance tapes of strip searches in the jail for a minimum of two years.