The story of a woman subjected to a shockingly invasive cavity search at the hands of Customs and Border Protection — and then made to foot the $5,000 bill — is receiving renewed attention as the ACLU builds momentum behind the case.
The woman filed a lawsuit against CBP and the hospital where the search was performed, the University Medical Center of El Paso, for the six-hour anal and vaginal cavity search she endured in December 2012. The breach of bodily privacy was conducted because a drug dog jumped on the 54-year-old woman, an American citizen referred to as “Jane Doe,” at the Texas/Mexico border. When the woman refused to sign a consent form at the end, she was billed more than $5,000. The bill has since been waived.
Ives, a lawyer for the ACLU, appeared on the radio show On The Media to speak about the case.
"Whether or not this reflects a pattern of practice [at CBP] is not yet clear," the woman's attorney, Laura Schauer Ives, told The Huffington Post. "But that the agents felt emboldened to do this, I think, is telling."
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The incident is nothing short of assault, Schauer Ives says, and “an excuse for abandoning constitutional principles.”
The complaint details the lasting trauma of the hours-long search.
“Her labia, vaginal opening, and anus were left raw and sore and she felt violated, demeaned and powerless as a result of the searches," it reads. "Since her ordeal, Ms. Doe has not been able to be physically intimate with her husband. When she is in public, she feels as if everyone is staring at her, so she avoids public spaces and stays at home whenever possible. She still cries when she thinks about this incident."
Meanwhile, the CBP has issued the following comment: "CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelming majority of CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe.”