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Woman: 'I felt raped' by police in roadside strip search

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Posted at 10:09 AM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 06:15:46-04

HOUSTON, TX (KPRC/CNN) - A woman is suing the Harris County Sheriff's Office over a roadside strip search she says made her feel like she was raped.

Charnesia Corley believes newly-released dashcam video will prove her case. The video was recorded two years ago, but she still feels the pain of what happened that night.

"He said he smelled marijuana in my car," Corley said.

Deputies pulled her over for running a red light. She was handcuffed as a female officer patted her down and then removed her pants and began what she calls an invasive and humiliating strip search.

"And she tells me just bend over - I hesitate," Corley said. "She shines her light on me. She proceeds to stick her fingers toward my vaginal area, I immediately pop up, 'Ma'am what are you doing?'"

The video shows her on the ground, naked from the waist down with her legs pinned for nearly 11 minutes while two female deputies search her.

"She grabs me by handcuffs, slams me on the ground, puts a knee in back, shoves fingers up inside of me," Corley said.

Corley was charged with possession of marijuana and resisting arrest, but the district attorney later dropped those charges. Under DA Devon Anderson, two officers were indicted by a grand jury for official oppression.

But last week the DA's office, now led by Kim Ogg, announced they'd taken the case to a second grand jury. They no-billed the deputies, and the charges were dismissed.

"We discovered new and significant evidence that we believed had to be presented to a grand jury," said Natasha Sinclair with the Harris County DA's Office

The office wouldn't say what the new evidence was, citing the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.

"There's been no new evidence related to any material fact in the case," said attorney Sam Cammack. "Ms. Corley's story has been consistent and the same throughout."

Corley's attorney said the only evidence that matters is this recording.

"They claim they found something, but it doesn't matter at the end of the day what they found because what they did to find it was illegal," Cammack said.

Corley filed a federal civil rights lawsuit that is set to go to trial in January.

In a statement Monday evening, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said their policy prohibits deputies from conducting strip searches without a warrant.

"In cases in which a warrant is obtained, strip searches must be conducted in a private, sanitary, and appropriate facility," he said in the statement.

Criminal charges are no longer pending against the deputies involved in the case.

"They're supposed to protect you. They're supposed to keep you safe, not rape you," Corley said. "And that's how I feel. I feel like I was raped."

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