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Irving Women Claim Assault, Humiliation After Roadside Cavity Search


NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Two Irving women have filed a federal lawsuit against State Troopers and the head of their department alleging that they were subjected to a humiliating and illegal "cavity search" during a traffic stop.

Angel Dobbs, 38, and her niece, 24-year-old Ashley Dobbs, were pulled over last July near the area of Highway 161 and Beltline Road for allegedly tossing cigarette butts out of the window of their vehicle while on a 'road trip' to Oklahoma.

The women's attorney Scott Palmer says State Trooper David Farrell claimed he smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle and performed a search, which turned up nothing.

Trooper Farrell then called in a female trooper, who proceeded to do a very personal cavity search to see if they women were hiding any illegal items.


Ferrell asked for the search because he said the women were "acting weird," the suit said.

After putting on gloves, Angel Dobbs says the trooper asked if it was okay to search her.  Dobbs says she didn't answer, but asked the trooper why she had the gloves.  "At that point, she told me to shut up and just listen," Dobbs told CBS 11.

The women said that the female trooper, Kelley Helleson, proceeded to use her fingers to search their anuses and vaginas, using the same latex glove on both women, on the side of the road in full view of other passing vehicles.

On the video, the trooper can be seen feeling around Dobbs' bra.  Then, Dobbs says, Helleson opened the back of her jogging pants.  "At this point, I'm in clear shock. I can't even believe this is happening.  Turns me around goes down into the front of my pants into my inner thigh and at which point she goes up with two fingers.  I just look at her and say 'oh my God, I've just been violated.'"

Without changing her latex glove, Trooper Helleson began searching Ashley Dobbs.  "She went down, then turned me around, and went down my front and then she actually dug.  I didn't know what I could say, what I could do. I felt hopeless."

"I was molested, I was violated. I was humiliated," Angel Dobbs later said of the incident.

>>CLICK HERE to read full Dobbs vs. Farrell Lawsuit<<

After finding nothing on the women and performing a roadside sobriety test, which Angel Dobbs passed, the women were given a warning for littering and sent on their way.

After the searches, Angel Dobbs is heard on the video expressing her frustration.  The trooper blamed it on cigarette smoke.  "It's because someone's a daily smoker in that car, you can attribute it to that," the trooper is heard saying.

Attorney Scott Palmer says the incident was a violation.  "We believe both troopers Farrell and Helleson displayed a reckless and callous disregard for these women's constitutional rights and their safety."

Palmer calls what happened ridiculous, disgusting and unconstitutional and says he's never seen anything like it in his career.

The women say when they filed a complaint with DPS supervisors, they were told if they filed an affidavit, DPS would turn around and file charges against them for lying.

Dobbs also accuses one of the troopers of taking a bottle of Vicodin prescribed to her.

CBS 11 News showed the entire, unedited version of the DPS dash cam video to former U.S. Attorney Matthew Orwig and asked him whether or not the women's federal, civil rights were violated.

"From listening to this, there's at least evidence he genuinely believed there was marijuana in the car or at least the smell of marijuana from the car," said Orwig.

Orwig said there could be evidence that is not on the video that would support the troopers actions.

"Officers have a very hard job. People could have drugs. They could have weapons, things that are dangerous to them. And, they will be shown some deference," he said.

However, a jury watches the dash cam video could also end up sympathetic to the driver and passenger.

"I can tell you, just based on what I've seen so far, just in this one tape and without knowing other circumstances, this officer will have some explaining to do," Orwig said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement the Texas Rangers have 'conducted an inquiry surrounding the events' and have turned the results over to the Dallas County DA's office who will be referring the case to a grand jury.

Copyright 2012 CBS Local Media a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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