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Texas Women Allege Illegal Cavity Search by State Troopers

ADDISON, Texas –The Texas Department of Public Safety is being sued by two Irving women who claim state trooper Kelley Helleson is responsible for a painful and humiliating cavity search carried out during a routine traffic stop in Dallas this past July.

Those included in the lawsuit are Helleson, fellow trooper David Farrell and Steven McCraw, the director of the Department of Public Safety. The two women, Angel and Ashley Dobbs filed the lawsuit on Monday in the federal U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

The incident began when state trooper Farrell pulled the aunt and niece over. He can be overheard saying on tape that he saw them throw a cigarette butt out the window while driving northbound on Highway 161 near Belt Line Lane. On approaching the car, he said he smelled marijuana in the car and called Helleson to conduct the search. Drugs were not found in the car or on the two women, and they were released with a warning.

“I didn’t know what I could say or what I could do,” Ashley Dobbs, 24, said. “I felt helpless.”

Earlier this week, the women’s attorney, Scott Palmer and the Dobbses spoke to the media. According to them, the lawsuit alleges that Helleson used her fingers to search inside each woman’s genital areas. The suit also says that the trooper did not change the glove she was wearing and performed the search without consent.

The suit also says Helleson failed to properly explain the extent of the search, telling Angel Dobbs, 38, “not to worry about” why she was putting on blue latex gloves. Angel, who was driving, also passed a field sobriety test.

“This intrusive cavity search occurred on the side of a public freeway illuminated by lights from the police vehicle in full view of the passing public,” the lawsuit reads. “Moreover, this roadside body cavity search was done without her consent.”

DPS Director McCraw is being sued for being aware of a “long standing pattern of police misconduct involving unlawful strip searches, cavity searches and the like, yet failed to take corrective action.” It also alleges that his employees were not trained to know that probable cause is required before a cavity search.

Katherine Cesinger, as spokesman for the Department said DPS would not comment on pending litigation. She did say, however, that the Texas Rangers investigated the stop and forwarded the results to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

“I was molested, I was violated, I was humiliated in front of other traffic,” said Angel Dobbs. “I had to watch my niece go through the same thing and I could not protect her at that point.”

Both women and their lawyer say the suit is to prevent further incidents like this one. “In this instance, they have completely failed the citizens of Texas,” said Charles Soechting, a second lawyer representing the two women.

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