County dismissed from Iowa strip search lawsuits

SIOUX CITY – Woodbury County and its former sheriff were recently dismissed from two federal lawsuits filed by women claiming they were given unlawful strip searches at the county jail. Several other county jailers are still scheduled to go to trial.

U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett said in his recent rulings that the women could not prove Woodbury County had a policy, custom or practice in place that violated the women’s rights, the Sioux City Journal reported. He also ruled that the women were not given strip searches because they were not subjected to any inspection of their bodies.

Bennett said in a 119-page ruling in October for one of the lawsuits that the description of the procedure as a strip search or search is, “at best, misleading, and at worst, invites jurors to decide the case on an improper, emotional basis.” Bennett issued a similar 50-page ruling last week in the other woman’s lawsuit.

The rulings in favor of the county and former Sheriff Glenn Parrett mean excessive force and retaliation claims against some county jailers are essentially all that remain. One of the women also claims there was an unconstitutional property search when her purse was searched during booking.