ACLU sues Rock County Sheriff over attempted roadside body cavity search

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota on Wednesday sued in federal court on behalf of a woman who alleges deputies tried to conduct a body cavity search of her on a roadside in freezing weather.

Kelli Jo Torres said she was a passenger in a car pulled over in southwestern Minnesota in November 2018 for a dangling air freshener. Torres said deputies told her to stand next to a squad car and tried to perform a cavity search on an interstate ramp. The outside temperature was 9 degrees (minus 13 Celsius).

Torres refused. She told the deputies she was wearing only leggings without underwear and asked them to take her to the police station or a hospital to perform the search. The ACLU alleges her rights against unreasonable search and seizure were violated.

When Torres was brought to a hospital, one deputy instructed a nurse to search her, and a pipe was removed from her vagina, the lawsuit said. But the deputy did not have a warrant for such a search, and a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia against Torres was later dismissed.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court of Minnesota, seeks damages from Rock County Sheriff Evan Verbrugge, the two deputies and the county.

Rock County Attorney Jeff Haubrich told The Associated Press on Wednesday he hadn’t received the complaint and had no comment. The sheriff also declined comment.