February 05, 2008

Stark County (Ohio) Sheriff's Deputies - Poster Boys (& Girls) For Abuse Of Power

CANTON -- Hope Steffey's night began with a call to police for help. It ended with her face down, completely naked and sobbing on a jail cell floor.
Steffey says Stark County sheriff's deputies used excessive force and assaulted her during a strip search 15 months ago, according to a federal lawsuit.

Stark County Sheriff Timothy Swanson denies the allegation.

Steffey's attorney says her clothes, including her underwear and bra, were stripped from her body by at least seven male and female sheriff's deputies and jail workers. She lay face down in handcuffs at the time.


Steffey, 47, was assaulted by a cousin on Oct. 20, 2006, on Weimer Drive SE, prompting a 911 call. A sheriff's deputy arrived and Steffey mistakenly gave the deputy her deceased sister's driver's license, not her own. The deputy refused to hand it back when she noticed the mistake and she pleaded for its return, the lawsuit said.

The deputy did not get medical help for Steffey's assault wounds and instead assaulted Steffey, the lawsuit said. The deputy slammed her into his cruiser, cracking one of her teeth, and later slammed her into the ground, causing cuts and bruises, the lawsuit said.

Later at the jail, Steffey said she was asked, "Have you thought about harming yourself?" She responded, "Now or ever?"

She said she was immediately stripped by male and female guards without ever being asked to voluntarily remove her clothing.