DPS says woman's allegation about invasive body search is false
BRAZORIA COUNTY, Texas – The Texas Department of Public Safety says a woman's allegations about an invasive body search in 2013 are false.
Jennifer Stelly said she was invasively searched on the side of a road by a Texas Highway Patrol trooper during a traffic stop in March 2013.
According to the DPS, the Texas Rangers conducted an investigation into the incident by reviewing a video of the search and interviewing the participants. They said it became clear that there was no such search and that Stelly was not credible. The Texas Rangers turned the case over to a Brazoria County grand jury, which found no basis to charge the trooper with a crime, according to the DPS.
Stelly and her boyfriend, Channing Castex, were driving to Surfside Beach when they said they were pulled over for speeding in Brazoria County in March 2013.
Castex said he was handcuffed and put into a patrol car after he admitted to a state trooper that he had smoked marijuana. A female state trooper was called to search Stelly in full view of a dash-mounted camera.
"She started going into my clothing and she penetrated areas that I don't wish to disclose at this point," Stelly said. "I was scared. I was violated. I didn't know what to do."
Stelly said the full, invasive cavity search happened on a busy freeway as people sped by. She said the troopers were checking for drugs hidden on or in her body.
"I was afraid, for one," she said. "But more than afraid, I was publicly humiliated. I was violated in daylight."
She said the trooper found nothing. Castex said he protested from the back seat of the patrol car.
"I was thinking that was wrong," Castex said. "I was telling them, 'Stop this. (It's) not right. You shouldn't be doing this.'"
In a statement the DPS said, "Marijuana was found in Ms. Stelly's purse and in the ashtray, and a handgun was found in the glove compartment. Ms. Stelly admitted to officers at the scene that she had been smoking marijuana and consuming alcohol. After failing a field sobriety test, she was arrested for public intoxication. Ms. Stelly pled no contest to the charge."
Stelly has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Texas Department of Public Safety, its director and four state troopers. The suit claims Stelly's constitutional rights were violated.
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