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Class-action lawsuit alleges more LaSalle County Jail abuse

Published: Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 10:19 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 10:31 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — The attorney for a Coal City woman who alleged she was forcibly stripped by LaSalle County sheriff's deputies after a DUI arrest this year on Thursday filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of four more people who say they have experienced similar abuse at the jail.

The class-action suit against LaSalle County, Sheriff Thomas Templeton and unknown sheriff's officers claims the four named plaintiffs, three women and one man, were either forcibly stripped or made to take their clothes off and then made to stay in cells without bathrooms for several hours. There, they had to urinate and defecate in a drain on the floor of the cell, and in some of the cases not given toilet paper, the suit claims.

The suit is separate from one just over a month ago of behalf of Dana Holmes of Coal City, who alleges that after her DUI arrest in May four deputies pulled her to the ground and carried her into a LaSalle County jail cell, where they forcibly stripped her and walked out with her clothes while being recorded on video.

The new lawsuit, filed Thursday, claims that in addition to forcibly stripping three female arrestees and one man brought to the jail in a civil matter, the four were forced to stay in their cells for several hours without access to a bathroom.

The suit also claims one of the women was denied medication for diabetes and denied food she was capable of eating based on her medical condition.

"This abusive and humiliating treatment has been, and continues to be, a regular and common practice in the LaSalle County Jail as a means of illegally punishing arrestees," the lawsuit read.

LaSalle County officials could not be reached Thursday night for comment but previously said that county jail guards did nothing wrong in the incident involving Holmes.

Attorney Terry Ekl, who is representing Holmes and the four new plaintiffs in the two cases filed in federal court, said Thursday if the class in the new suit is certified by the court, other potential plaintiffs would be notified.

"I don't think we have anywhere near all of the (people) that this happened to," Ekl said.

Under Illinois law, a strip-search is permitted only when officers have a "reasonable belief" that the subject is hiding a weapon or a controlled substance on their body. The searches must be done by an officer of the same sex as the subject and cannot be observed by people not conducting the search.

(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services

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