HOUSTON (CBS Houston) — A woman claims she was sexually assaulted by a sheriff’s deputy while having a body cavity search performed on her after authorities said they smelled marijuana in her car.
Charnesia Corley, 21, tells KRTK-TV that she did not consent to the June cavity search. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office says she was originally pulled over for running a stop sign. A deputy asked her to get out of her car after he believed he smelled marijuana. She was then handcuffed and put in the back of the patrol car.
Corley explained to KTRK that when the deputy didn’t find marijuana in her car, he called for a female deputy.
“She tells me to pull my pants down,” she said. “I said, ‘Ma’am, I don’t have any underwear on.’ She says, ‘Well, that doesn’t matter. Pull your pants down.’”
Deputies claim that Corley resisted.
“I bend over and she proceeds to try to force her hand inside of me. I tell her, ‘Ma’am, no. You cannot do this,’” Corley told KRTK.
The alleged incident took place at a Texaco station.
Sam Cammack, Corley’s attorney, told the Houston Chronicle that when Corley protested the cavity search, she was thrown to the ground and restrained. He says deputies then held her legs apart to conduct the cavity search.
“What these officers did out there at the Texaco station was unconscionable,” he told the Chronicle. “I’ve worked many big cases and I’ve never seen that.”
Cammack says he plans to sue the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in federal court.
Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director of the ACLU of Texas, told the Chronicle that a cavity search without a warrant is a “blatant” violation of the Fourth Amendment.
“A body cavity search without a warrant would be constitutionally suspect,” Robertson said. “But a body cavity search by the side of the road … I can’t imagine a circumstance where that would be constitutional.”
Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Thomas Gilleland told KTRK that the deputies did everything as they should and that one deputy wrote in the report that Corley said they could “strip search her if I needed to.”
Corley was charged with resisting arrest and possession of marijuana. Authorities say they found .02 ounces of weed on her.