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Old August 1st, 2009 #12
John in Woodbridge
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Default Lawsuit over strip search settled

Stark County Stark County has agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by Hope Steffey who says she was brutally strip searched and left completely naked inside a jail cell for six hours.

U.S. District Court Judge David Dowd said in a court order that the plaintiffs, including Sheriff Tim Swanson and the Stark County Board of Commissioners, "have entered into a resolution of the plaintiffs' case against those defendants, reserving only a determination by the Court as to the amount of attorney fees and costs."

"As a consequence, the plaintiffs' case against the county defendants has been concluded, but the plaintiffs' claims against the non-county defendants remain before the court."

The non-county defendants include contractors which provide medical and psycholgocal services to the jail. That case is scheduled to go to court in October.

It appears from the court order that the county defendants have agreed to pay a monetary sum to the Steffeys but the order did not disclose the amount.

It also appears that the county has agreed to pay Steffeys' attorney fees and costs. A hearing on the amount of fees and expenses remains to be set by the court.

When asked if the settlement is an admission of guilt, Sheriff Swanson told The Investigator Tom Meyer, "No reaction, Tom" and he hung up.

Other county officials had no reaction either.

Steffey and her lawyer David Malik declined comment.

Steffey sued the county after six deputies -- both male and female -- forcibly removed all her clothes. The case began when Steffey had a relative call the sheriff for help after she was assaulted by her cousin.

She ended up being arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The sheriff argued Steffey was suicidal, an allegation she denies. The sheriff said deputies had to remove all her clothes so she wouldn't harm herself.

Steffey's lawyers argued that deputies who handled her incarceration were not properly trained in homicide and suicide precautions.

The case generated reaction nationwide for months.