Special Prosecutor Ordered in Jail Strip Search Case

A LaSalle County judge has ordered the state appellate prosecutor's office to review the controversial strip search of a woman by LaSalle County Sheriff's deputies.

Dana Holmes, 33, had her clothes removed by four deputies at the LaSalle County jail in May following her arrest for DUI.

The incident was captured on surveillance video, which also shows Holmes being placed in a padded cell without her clothes by one female deputy and three male deputies.

"I hope they lose their jobs and suffer the consequences of their actions," Holmes said.

The sheriff's office contends Holmes was not strip-searched and left naked in a cell. According to a statement issued by the law firm representing the sheriff's office, Holmes was placed in a padded cell so she would calm down after twice kicking at a female officer.

"The video shows that less than one minute after Ms. Holmes' street clothes were taken, a female officer promptly provided her a tear-proof suit and blanket for her own safety," said attorney Jim Sotos.

"I did not try to kick, I was not being mouthy in any way, there was no excuse or reason for what they did to me," Holmes said.

Sotos' press release said the practice fully complies with Illinois and state law.

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

Ekl said his office has received other complaints from people claiming they were wrongfully stripped at the jail.

"They seem to think in this county that if they decide that you're not being compliant that they have a right to take your clothes off," Ekl said. "That, apparently, is their policy and that's crazy."

Ekl requested an outside prosecutor to determine if there was any criminal misconduct by the deputies because he said LaSalle County State's Attorney Brian Towne has a clear conflict of interest in the case.

"He has made this his problem," Ekl said. "He has shown a complete inability to be fair to Dana Holmes and the other people who have been stripped."

Towne appeared to have taken offense to the suggestions made by Ekl at Monday's hearing.

"I've been a prosecutor here for 21 years," Towne said. "I've lived my entire life in LaSalle County and have served the people well in my opinion and the suggestions from an out of county attorney that I am not capable of doing my job is personally insulting."

Sotos said he completely welcomes the court's ruling and that it would be "wildly inappropriate for any criminal charges to be filed."

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