Sunday, March 24, 2013

You say justified warrantless search, I say rape

This story about made my day. (The Jayhawks moving on to the Sweet Sixteen actually made my day, but this was close.)

I've blogged about this incident a couple of times already. Two women in Texas were subjected to an invasive cavity search on the side of the highway, in full view of passing cars and a trooper car dashcam. The trooper actually inserted her fingers into the vaginas of these two women (who had done nothing wrong) out of suspicion that they might have drugs hidden (even though there was no sign of drugs or paraphernalia anywhere in the car.) I even previously pointed out that if I had done what the officer in question had done, it would have been called rape under my state's law.

Well, in Texas they call it sexual assault, not rape, and I am fine with that because the officer who conducted those despicable searches has been charged with it!

(The male trooper who called for the female officer was charged with theft for allegedly stealing one of the women's prescription painkillers, but not for aiding and abetting the sexual assault.)

I'm sure this is a terrifying experience for the trooper who somehow thought she was just doing her job when she digitally penetrated two innocent women on the side of the road. I'm sure it's been financially devastating to lose her job. And now to face such a serious charge must be rough. Perhaps, too, there's some frustration on her part, feeling like she's being made the scapegoat for what was standard operating procedure in her office. Were I her, it would gall me that the male trooper involved wasn't charged with anything related to the actual sexual assault.

But so what. She molested these women. That's exactly how they felt because that's exactly what happened to them. She had absolutely no legal justification for her actions, no matter that office policy said otherwise. To the extent that other troopers also engaged in these awful cavity searches on the side of the road, well the answer isn't that she shouldn't be charged because none of them ever have been. The answer is that they should all be charged. Maybe it's just that she was the first trooper dumb enough to conduct such a search without first making sure the dash cam was off.

I'm glad to see this travesty being taken so seriously. Digital penetration of the female sex organ without consent is a crime. In Texas, as in Kansas and many, many other states, digital penetration is treated just the same as penile penetration. It's rape. (Texas, like some states, avoids the word rape, calling it sexual assault instead, but it all means the same thing.) To meet the statutory elements, the penetration doesn't have to have been for a sexual purpose, either, so the trooper doesn't have that as a defense. I'm sure her defense will turn on the question of whether office policy and procedure that calls for cavity searches on the roadside can protect the individual officers who actually carry out the policy. That defense didn't work in Nuremberg and it shouldn't work here. A law enforcement office can't have a policy of rape and thus shield the individual officers who actually commit the rapes. 

By the legal definition, this was rape. When a case this obvious and documented comes to light, we need to take it seriously and treat it like the crime it is. We need to make sure every law enforcement officer in the nation knows this abusive behavior won't be tolerated. If we don't, there might well be other victims.

No comments:

Blog Designed by : NW Designs