Justice for Victim of illegal Strip Search/Sexual Assault by Masked, Unidentified Officer
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*****There is a lot of information in this petition, that was necessary for complete understanding of the situation, so please be patient and read it all, if you are interested.*****
My cousin Bobbi Jo Dugger was the victim of Civil Rights violations, illegal search and seizure, and an illegal strip search and sexual assault/battery at the hands of Narcotics Officers from the Catawba County North Carolina Sheriff's Department after they produced an invalid, fabricated search warrant, searched her home and property, and found nothing that justified a citation or arrest. Rather than accepting the fact that she was not in possession of drugs and was not a drug dealer, the officers subjected her to a strip search by a person wearing black street clothes, and a ski mask that covered their entire face, with no identification, in her own bedroom, alone with the masked person, with no other witnesses and without her consent. The masked person spoke in a low tone and only enough to instruct Bobbi Jo to take off all her clothing, then touched and inspected her private areas looking for drugs that were not there. When the humiliating experience was over, the masked person jerked the black, nitrile gloves from their hands, threw them on Bobbi Jo's bed in a disrespectful manner and walked out of the room, exited the house, and left the premises. The supposed "female officer" never identified herself to Bobbi Jo and there were no other witnesses in the room when she was forced to undress in front of this masked stranger, who touched her without consent, while four male officers waited outside. There has to be a witness in the room when a woman undergoes a physical exam by her gynecologist, so why would there be no witness present for something like this? There is absolutely no justification for the treatment Bobbi Jo endured. It is sexual assault, a complaint has been filed, and those responsible should be punished!
Bobbi Jo tried to file sexual assault charges with the magistrate on October 24, 2017, but he sent her to file a report with the sheriff's office because he does not handle felony charges. She did file a complaint with Officer Yang of the sheriff's department that same day, giving him information about the experience, names of the officers involved, a description of the masked person who violated her and the humiliating details about the strip search and sexual assault she endured. She stressed the fact that she wants to know the identity of the person who assaulted her while wearing a mask. He took down the information and passed the case on to an investigator. The investigator called Bobbi Jo days later and asked her to come into his office to discuss the charges, and provide more information (which she had already given to officer Yang). He told her she had to come alone if she didn't have a licensed attorney, and refused to allow her minister or any other support person to be present during the interview, even though she was the victim of the crime, not the perpetrator. Considering what she had already been through with the Sheriff's Dept., she was not comfortable talking to any member of law enforcement alone and could not afford an attorney to represent her at that time. She did not meet with the investigator and did not hear back from him about the charges she filed. She went to the courthouse and picked up a copy of the police report in November, but was only given the first page, which contained several errors about the incident and did not include any of the involved officers' names. The report indicates that the victim stated she was sexually assaulted by law enforcement during a search, but it says that the assault was not forcible and resulted in no injury, both if which are false, as she reported that she did not consent to being stripped or touched, and that she has suffered emotional and physical harm from the incident. She asked the clerk to get the false information corrected, and add the names of the officers involved to the report, but was told she would have to go through a process (run around) and speak with the officer again who took the original complaint. She did not want to relive the whole experience again after she already told him everything he needed to know, and the changes to the public report were never made to reflect the true complaint filed or the names of those responsible. She went to the courthouse again a few weeks later and requested a copy of the complete police report and was again given only the first inaccurate page and was told that they could not give her any more because it was an ongoing investigation. She was also told that she would need to speak with the attorney for the Sheriff's department (Debra Bechtel) if she wanted to discuss or get any information about the case. The attorney also refused to give her a copy of the complete investigative file or answer any of her questions concerning the charges.
So, basically, she cannot get anyone to talk to her about a case in which she filed sexual assault charges against narcotics officers. She is being treated like the criminal when she is actually the victim of a horrible crime that resulted in much damage to her! The people responsible have not been charged or punished for their actions. As of today. January 11, 2018, Bobbi Jo has not heard anything about the progress of her case, there have been no arrests made for the sexual assault, the masked assailant has not been identified and repeated requests for a copy of the full police/investigative report have been denied.
Bobbi Jo consented to a search of her property in August 2017, at the request of narcotics officers who believed her to be in possession of methamphetamine and paraphernalia associated with the sale and distribution of methamphetamine. No methamphetamine was found, there was no sign of distribution, no arrest was made and officers left her home with no reason to believe she was involved in any illegal activities involving methamphetamine. Officers/investigators, Crisp, Ferra, and Hefner returned to her home on October 17, 2017 and asked if they could search her home again, but this time she did not consent to a second search of her property. She told them she did not trust them to go into her home again without probable cause and a proper search warrant. One of the officers told her he could get a search warrant and another said to him, "I will get something together" and proceeded to make a phone call to request another officer get the warrant and have it signed by the magistrate. Bobbi Jo was patted down by officers when they arrived on the scene and they immediately confiscated her cell phone (without a search warrant). Bobbi Jo, the caregiver of an elderly man who is a fall risk, was detained outside her home, in the cold, with the doors open, and not allowed to go inside to be with or tend to the elderly man in her care, putting him at risk. Everyone else that was at her home when the officers arrived was allowed to leave, without being patted down or searched, leaving Bobbi Jo alone with three Narcotics officers. The officers continuously threatened to arrest Bobbi Jo during the two hour wait for the search warrant, for various things they assumed they would find on her property, showing her handcuffs and flashing guns and badges to intimidate and emphasize their power over her. She was completely cooperative with them, and did not resist being detained outside her home, even though there was no warrant or probable cause at that time. By sending away all other individuals from the home, Bobbi Jo was left without anyone to witness the officers behavior or stand up for her once they realized injustices were taking place. The search warrant was delivered by Officer Smith, who was not one of the original officers at the scene, two hours after the first officers arrived.
After a thorough search of her home, vehicles, and outbuildings, the officers still came up empty handed, but refused to give up there. Even though Bobbi Jo had not left the sight of the officers from the moment they arrived at her home, Officer Smith asked her if she, "Had anything shoved up inside her." When she told him she did not, he stated that she could, "save everyone a lot of time and herself a lot of embarrassment," if she would just go ahead and turn over the drugs she was hiding in her body. She again assured him that she had no drugs anywhere on her property or person. He threatened to call a "female officer" to come do a strip search if she refused to admit to having or hand over the drugs he believed to be in her possession. She again told him she had nothing on her. He made a call and a person in an SUV showed up a little while later, parked up the street and walked down to Bobbi Jo's house, not in police uniform, but in full disguise, including a ski mask, with no identification. The masked person took her inside the house to conduct a full strip search which included the person touching and looking closely "inside" her private areas. While Bobbi Jo did not resist the search out of fear for her safety, she did not consent to being stripped or touched by anyone, especially an unidentified person, who may or may not have been a female or even a member of law enforcement. She was sexually assaulted through unwanted touching of her privates without consent, by a masked individual, humiliated, emotionally damaged and continues to suffer long term effects resulting from the victimization she suffered at the hands of law enforcement officers and whoever was behind the mask. She deserves justice for the things these officers and the masked person put her through and they deserve to be punished like any other person would be for committing crimes of this nature!
In the days and weeks following the search of her home, and the report of sexual assault, Bobbi Jo witnessed narcotics officers on her property several times between 2am and 4:30am, messing around her vehicle, outbuildings, surveillance cameras, and phone/cable/internet boxes/wiring. It is believed that they were doing this in darkness to remove wire taps and recording equipment that was illegally placed around her property prior to the search warrant. It was also discovered that the search warrant that the officers "got together" was a copy and paste of another person's warrant from October 6, 2017. Whoever typed up the warrant for Bobbi Jo's residence, forgot to change the address and house description in several paragraphs, when copying and pasting from the other person's warrant, so there were two different locations and descriptions of the property that was to be searched in the warrant for Bobbi Jo. Bobbi Jo's warrant also did not include a date or timeline for the alleged controlled buy that gave probable cause to obtain the warrant and search the property. Any one of these errors makes the search warrant invalid, yet officer Smith signed it under oath, swearing the information was true and accurate, a magistrate signed off on it, and the narcotics officers used it to enter and search someone's home, property and physical body. When we tried to obtain a copy of Bobbie Jo's warrant and the warrant of the other person the officers copied to compare them, neither had been returned to the clerk's office and filed as public record, even though it is supposed to be done within 48 hours after the execution of the warrant. Another example of these narcotics officers ignoring the rules and doing as they please!
The search warrant executed at Bobbi Jo's home was fabricated and invalid, and therefore did not give officers the right to search her property, making the entire experience a violation of her constitutional rights. The strip search further violated her human rights and physical body. With the search warrant being fabricated and no drugs found on the premises during the illegal search, there never should have been a physical search, much less a strip search by a masked person. It seems as though the officers were angry that they did not find what they were looking for, (because it was never there) and they wanted to find a way to humiliate Bobbi Jo before they were done with her. They did just that and more!
Bobbi Jo is a very selfless person who helps anyone in need, always giving way more than she takes. She has health issues, but nothing can keep her down. She stays busy working around her house and yard, while looking after an elderly friend whose needs she always puts above her own! She is now in a position where she needs other people to be there for her, which is why I started this petition, reaching out to anyone who is willing to stand up for her, be an advocate and prove that she is not alone through this difficult journey. Anyone who has experienced sexual assault or abuse can understand the impact it has on someone, and the changes it brings to a person's life. The emotional damage suffered by Bobbi Jo because of the events that took place in her home on October 17, 2017, will affect her for a long time, possibly a life time. She now lives in constant fear of law enforcement, and does not trust them or feel that they would protect her if she needed them. She has trouble sleeping because of the experience and a fear that officers are lurking around her property. The sexual assault and unwanted touching have left her scarred and psychologically damaged, and she has begun counseling, after her minister, friends and loved ones recommended it to help her deal with the issues she now has. It is a horrible thing to see someone you love, who was so full of life and optimism, change in such a negative way because law enforcement, the people who are supposed to protect and serve, violated, disrespected and assaulted her without care for her well being and a total disregard for the laws that should have protected her!
I have copies of the search warrant and police report if anyone would like to see them. I can only post one photo on the petition, but I can email the evidence to anyone who wants to see it for themselves. It really does speak for itself!
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