Teens claim they got strip searched on jail tour

/ Source: The Associated Press

Three teenage girls ordered to take a cautionary tour of a juvenile detention center are suing the counties that oversee the facility, claiming they were subjected to a strip search.

According to the lawsuit, guards at the center had the girls remove their clothes, squat, lift their breasts and open their mouths as part of the strip searches.

The lawsuit claims the girls — ages 14, 15 and 16 — agreed to take a 15-minute walkthrough of the facility in Canton on May 18 and perform 20 hours of community service to avoid going to court on trespassing charges filed after a fight. Their lawyers claim the teens were only bystanders at the fight.

After the searches, the girls were given dirty inmates’ uniforms to wear, according to the lawsuit.

Although it is a detention center, the facility is named the Multi-County Juvenile Attention Center. The suit, filed Tuesday in Common Pleas Court, names the six counties that oversee the facility as defendants and seeks at least $25,000 in damages.

An investigator is looking into the allegations, but no conclusions have been made, Stark County Sheriff Timothy Swanson said. Court Administrator Richard DeHeer and facility superintendent Donald Thernes wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit.

If the parents had known their children would be strip searched, they never would have consented to the walkthrough, attorneys Brian Zimmerman and Allen Schulman Jr. said.