LA County To Pay Out $1.75M Over Illegal Cavity Search

( – The Board of Supervisors in Los Angeles County have approved a $1.75 million lawsuit settlement to be paid out to a woman who alleged that deputies performed two illegal cavity searches on her while attempting to search her for drugs.

The lawsuit alleges that Leticia Sanchez was at her home in November 2017 when she was served with a search warrant by two deputies. Deputy Deanna Ballesteros approached Sanchez and told her she was required to submit to a cavity search for illegal substances. Sanchez protested and said the search violated her constitutional rights, which Ballesteros ignored and began using her hands to perform a cavity search of Sanchez’s genitals.

When no narcotics were found, the deputy allegedly “reacted with rage” and began a second illegal cavity search, despite Sanchez’s repeated protestations. Ballesteros used an “unknown object” to probe Sanchez’s genitals during the second search, causing an internal tear within the plaintiff’s genitals. When Sanchez told the deputy that she was hurting her, Ballesteros did not stop the search. Additionally, the complaint states that the deputies did not get Sanchez prompt medical attention after wounding her. Sanchez was not treated until she was booked in at the sheriff’s station and another deputy saw that she was bleeding.

One of the attorneys for the plaintiff called it “disturbing” that the deputies involved were not disciplined when they should have been arrested for their treatment of Sanchez. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that the employees involved in the illegal cavity searches were not fired and further denied any wrongdoing in the case, stating that their settlement was “not an admission of liability.”

The lawsuit follows a 2019 settlement from Los Angeles County of $53 million for former female inmates. According to documents from that case, thousands of female inmates alleged that they were put into groups of 50 and required to expose their genitals during intake inspections at the Sheriff’s Department’s Century Regional Detention Facility. The complaint also alleges that deputies made “degrading comments” to the women during these inspections.

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