Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hope Steffey; Starke County's Internet Fueled Nightmare.

The Hope Steffey affair seems unwilling to go away. I haven't blogged about it lately, but search engine traffic keeps finding my earlier stories, and the pace has been picking up. This story seems to be striking a raw nerve on several levels.

A quick recap.

First, we learned this:

Hope Steffey's night started with a call to police for help. It ended with her face down, naked, and sobbing on a jail cell floor. Now, the sheriff's deputies from Stark County, Ohio who allegedly used excessive force during a strip search 15 months ago face a federal lawsuit, and recently released video won’t help their case.

Steffey's ordeal with the Stark County sheriff's deputies began after her cousin called 9-1-1 claiming Steffey had been assaulted by another one of their cousins. When a Stark County police officer arrived, he asked to see Steffey's driver's license. But instead of handing over her own ID, she mistakenly turned over her dead sister's license, which she contends she keeps in her wallet as a memento. That's when the situation became complicated.

"Hope was not treated as a victim," her lawyer told WKYC News. "The officer said to her 'shut up about your dead sister.'"

And then it got bizarre.

It turned out that there were quite a few other women who'd gotten this sort of "special treatment" courtesy of Turgid Tim Swanson.

WKYC reports that since the release of the now-notorious Hope Steffey ’strip search’ video, 4 more Stark County, Ohio women, including Valentina Dyshko of North Canton, have come forward alleging that they were forced to remove their clothing when detained at the Stark County Jail...
BL further reports in a subsequent article that the State Attorney General will be looking into the entire matter.

Larry Shields of the Salem News reports that Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson has officially requested that Ohio Attorney General Mark Dan “review all the circumstances surrounding the arrest and incarceration of Hope Steffey in October of 2006,” a vicious incident labelled “way out of line” by Cuyahoga county Sheriff Gerald McFaul (h/tThePoliticalCat).

Additionally, Muriel Kane of The Raw Story reports that video footage taken prior to the now-infamous strip search tape may exist, noting that “jailhouse surveillance cameras show a deputy with a handheld camera filming Steffey being escorted to her cell.”

Kane also suggests that dashboard video of the arrest, originally believed to be non-existent because the arresting officer claimed the camera was off, may not have been disclosed to Steffey’s lawyers.

Of course, the investigation came to the sort of end you might expect, in a state and countey where things like this could happen in the first place.

According to a grand jury, Stark County deputies committed no criminal acts while arresting Hope Steffey two years ago. Nancy H. Rogers, Ohio attorney general, issued a statement saying that a Stark County grand jury did not hand down any indictments after reviewing the evidence presented by the state’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation Special Prosecution Sections.

The Steffey case was investigtated by Paul Scarsella, the Chief of the Special Prosecutions Section for the Attorney General’s Office where he manages 4 attorneys and support staff. He was assisted by Bridget Carty, Public Integrity Unit Coordinator, and an Assistant Attorney General in the Special Prosecutions Section.

The Special prosecutors, Paul Scarsella and Bridget Carty, said the incident, in which male and female deputies forcibly removed Steffey’s clothes at the Stark County jail, was a suicide precaution. They said the deputies were only following a medical order given by a doctor on duty to remove her clothes. Though the jail has suicide suits for inmates to wear, prosecutor Scarscella said Steffey was not immediately given one because even the suit was deemed too dangerous for her to have.

The Special prosecutors presented the results of their investigation to the grand jury without interviewing Hope Steffey. They said they were unwilling to interview her with her lawyers present, as she requested. Steffey did however appear before the grand jury. The grand jury declined to indict the deputies involved.

Steffey denied that she was suicidal or was given the opportunity to remove her clothes herself. There is no policy that prevents men from removing a female inmate’s clothes during a suicide precaution situation. Men are however prevented from strip-searching a female inmate.

However, the findings of this grand jury will have no bearing on the federal lawsuit that Hope Steffey filed on Oct. 2007, accusing Stark County deputies ofviolating her civil rights by assaulting, strip-searching and leaving her injured and naked for six hours in a Stark County jail cell. She had to use toilet paper to cover herself. Defendants in the case are Swanson, Deputy Sheriff Richard T. Gurlea Jr. and one to 15 other “John and Jane Does” employed at the Stark County Jail, and the Stark County commissioners. That case is scheduled to go to trial in December.

You might be suprised to find that freepers are as pissed off at Starke County Sherriff "Turgid Tim" Swanson as people on the left. But then, there are outlaw bikers who find Starke County to be insufficiently civilized in this regard. Nor have other law enforcement officers been particularly effusive in their support.

But wait, it gets BETTER! Turgid Tim's Tumecent Team are SUING! (The Alliance-Review)

The plaintiffs are six Stark County sheriff's deputies " Kristin Fenstemaker, Laura Rodgers, Tony Gayles, Richard T. Gurlea Jr., Andrea Mays and Brian Michaels " whom the lawsuit states suffered humiliation, severe emotional distress, disrepute in the community, and loss of wages and employment.

The suit stems from investigations and news stories by WKYC TV Inc. and its reporter which "portrayed the deputies as abusing their power, abusing an inmate and wrongfully causing harm to an inmate" " Hope Steffey of Salem.

Specifically named are news reporter Tom Meyer of WKYC TV; Gannett Company Inc., doing business as WKYC TV Inc. at 1333 Lakeside Ave. in Cleveland; and Gannett Satellite Information Network International, c/o CT Corporation at 1300 E. Ninth St., Cleveland. Also named as defendants are three people working for a Channel 3 news program, "The Investigator," whose "true names and addresses are currently unknown."
WKYC keeps up the pressure

Sheriff Swanson says Steffey was considered suicidal so her clothes had to be removed for her own safety. Steffey has denied she was suicidal.

The woman's lawyers discovered during the lawsuit that at least 128 women between 1999 and 2007 were strip-searched or forced to remove their clothing or placed on suicide watch, homicide watch or "naked detention."

The lawyers were unable to obtain the names of these women due to privacy rights. They are using a billboard along a busy four lane road to encourage these women to come forward and to tell their stories.

"This is an honest attempt to find out what, if anything is happening inside that jail that violates constitutional rights," said David Malik, an attorney representing Steffey.

I keep finding other bloggers keeping up the story, and many concerned citizens following it - but very little other media, other than WKYC.

One wonders why. Considering just how juicy this story is. How very much it appeals to tabloid sensiblities. One wonders why it's not wall to wall on CNN and Fox. But it's one more illustration as to why cops fear cameras.

Related Stories:

Sheriff Tim Swanson likes to make sure none of them pretty girls are suicidal.
Starke County deserves a Hellride for Hope.
Hope Steffey: "Rape without Penetration."


Zemo said...

I have followed this story for over a year. I have talked to a lot of people about it and uncovered a LOT of lies by the Stark County Sheriff's Dept.

But not only them, I have found a support system for these criminals from the county prosecutors office, to the BCI (that was SUPPOSED to investigate this case), and to even some of the papers reporting this story.

One paper writing about this story has DELIBERATELY written the story's leaving out stuff, or making it imply something that they KNOW is BS.

Heres an example from the CantonRep's "Award Winning Story", What Happened To Hope Steffey.

QUOTE "Most willingly take off their clothes, Swanson said."
QUOTE "Deputies said Steffey was told she would have to give up her clothes and was given the opportunity to remove them voluntarily."

It may be true that Swanson said that, but the paper KNEW that Steffey was NEVER given a chance to remove her own clothes. They had this report from the BCI that CLEARLY states this:

So the deputies statement is an outright lie, and the paper KNOWS it.

And there is more, LOTS more, just like this.

I had also called the sheriff's dept, they are screening ALL their calls. You can't even get a hold of the sheriff's secretary.

The county prosecutor's office won't discuss anything. They won't even discuss WHY they won't discuss the case or settlement.

This whole mess stinks!

Zemo said...


Here’s PROOF the cops were actually trying to charge the VICTIM for the crime she was reporting!!

NONE of the papers have EVER reported that Steffey was actually arrested for assault too.

Leanne Preston is listed as the VICTIM! This is the niece that Steffey claimed attacked her. (her injuries are listed as a broken fingernail)

Scott Preston is the Uncle of Leanne, the woman that allegedly attacked Steffey. They are listing him as a witness against Steffey.

HOW they are listing him as reporting the assault is beyond me.
Ok heres part of Uncle Scott's testimony at trial.

So HOW do the cops use a statement to frame Steffey, from a guy that testifies that he saw NOTHING?!?!?!?

I can see why they never tried to convict her of the assault too.
Since Scott is not the one that called 911.
Leanne's brother is the one that actually reported the assault, and called police ON HIS OWN SISTER, at Steffey's request. (BTW he never showed up at the trial to testify.)

The arresting cop, Richard T. Gurlea Jr., testified at Steffey's trial that the 'investigation' into the assault was never finished. (REALLY?!!?)

We have Steffey's cousin, on tape, telling Steffey that the officer has to KNOW that none of this was her fault, while the officer is within listening distance.

Plus we have the other witnesses that said Steffey was the one attacked. The cop has them all looking for Steffey hair that was ripped out.
Even the officer testified at court that he went to his cruiser to get a camera to document Steffey's injuries, there seems to be no “confusion” about who was the victim like the papers claim. So what happened?

And he is recorded on TAPE telling Steffey that he will still 'investigate' her assault even as he has her in his car, so what happened?

This report SHOWS what happened, the cops KNEW that it was ALL BS!!

Since they are all trying to railroad the VICTIM of the assault!

John said...

Contacted John Boccieri today about the money he just got for the sheriff's office. Asked him to get new cameras instead and to see what he could do about the jail policies that they admit are still having men strip women & leave them naked.


Be sure to point out this Sheriff is named in a LOT of lawsuits (7 or 8) and this crap needs to be stopped NOW.

Contact Me

I am here to serve the residents of the 16th Congressional District, and so is my staff.

We can be reached in Washington (202) 225-3876, in Canton at (330) 489-4414 , or Toll Free at (800) 826-9015.

Boccieri District Office

300 W Tuscarawas St.
Suite 716
Canton, OH 44702
(330) 489-4414

Boccieri DC Office:

1516 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3876

John said...

Just as I predicted the Deputies lawsuit never gets to the inside of a court room either.

John55 said...

I have been wondering WHY all these other agencies have covered for the sheriff's dept. Why did they overlook all the evidence of abuse?

The BCI investigation's evidence includes Sheriff Swanson ENCOURAGING officers to use their videos for "training purposes".

I called the sheriff's office and asked if videos like the Hope Steffey video had been used for "training" . I said you can't use them right...with the privacy laws!??!

They said that they DO use them for training, but that they 'didn't think' Steffey's video had been used.

"REALLY?", I said, so then send me a copy of the signout sheet.

They said they would not release a copy, then after I kept asking they claimed that there was no signout sheet.

Right, first they won't release them, then they don't exist....just like a lot of video that came up "missing" in this case.
I have to wonder how many agencies that looked into the abuses get copies of these tapes?? What other incentive would they have to keep the abuses quiet?

GEE, do ya think that MAYBE this would be a violation of Hope's privacy??
If the sheriff wants "training videos" let them buy them from a school, not pass around private videos that are supposed to be used only in defense of a lawsuit.

And yet these same deputes sued, saying that THEIR privacy was violated!!!

Makes me wonder just how sick these people are.

John55 said...

QUOTE "The Special prosecutors, Paul Scarsella and Bridget Carty, said the incident, in which male and female deputies forcibly removed Steffey’s clothes at the Stark County jail, was a suicide precaution. They said the deputies were only following a medical order given by a doctor on duty to remove her clothes. Though the jail has suicide suits for inmates to wear, prosecutor Scarscella said Steffey was not immediately given one because even the suit was deemed too dangerous for her to have."

Ok the BCI NEVER even "investigated" that this was ordered by a doctor! So that statement above is a complete LIE!

WHY didn't they investigate to see who ordered it?
Easy because they already knew the answer, and they knew that by investigating it they would have found enough evidence to charge the officers!

But you don't have to believe me, call them both up, ask for a Freedom of Info request & ask them for the proof that a doctor ordered this...they have NONE.

Paul Scarsella
Bridget Carty

Stark County Sheriff's Office

Scarscella also can NOT tell you HOW someone can be "TOO suicidal" for a suit DESIGNED for the purpose, or even a paper covering.

These people are SCUM!!

John55 said...

When the Hope Steffey story broke sheriff Swanson was quick to say that they have followed the "Minimum Standards for Jails in Ohio".
This is run by the Bureau of Adult Detention, and they have a board that votes on the "standards".

The last I knew the Bureau of Adult Detention had been in the process of making rules changes to prevent abuses at jails.

Well I called the Bureau of Adult Detention to see if the rule changes had been completed to stop the abuses of inmates.

Butch Hunyadi is GONE & been replaced by Ronald E. Nelson, Jr.

And after years of study, the rules are now NOT going to be changed....

Check out the last name listed on the board and maybe we can see a clue as to WHY no changes are now in the works:

Mike McDonald, Chief Deputy of Corrections Stark County Sheriffs Office

This is the guy that now wants to be Stark County Sheriff, and that some people still believe is not part of the 'good ol boy' system.

Believe what you want, but after interacting with these people, I personally have no doubt about what is REALLY going on here!!!


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