NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Three of the nine women who are suing Portsmouth Sheriff Bill Watson and several other jail officials are speaking out about their accusations.
The contract workers say they were told to take off their clothes and undergo a body cavity search before they could begin work the day of the incident, in April 2011.
"You think it's been a year and that it goes away, but it doesn't," Emma Lee Floyd-Sharp told WAVY.com
The workers who spoke to WAVY.com said they were taken into a private room and a woman deputy forced them to take their clothes for a strip search.
"So I started taking off my clothes and she said stop you are going too fast.. so i started taking them off slower. So I went to bend down and squat and she said, 'no you have to bend down lower and squat and cough'," Marilyn Scott recounted.
"It just felt real bad, like molested, raped, like in a sexual type way that you don't want to be," added Yolanda Vines.
The women are named in lawsuits filed by the ACLU, which believes their rights were violated.
Sheriff Bill Watson told 10 On Your Side the searches were done because at the time there was a problem with contraband inside the jail.
"I guess they want me to buy them roses and give it to them as they come into the door. We are running a jail here. There is a lot of contraband coming in and we couldn't catch anybody at it and the minute we strip searched, the contraband stopped immediately," said Watson.
The sheriff says it comes down to safety, but the women involved believe the search went too far and they hope this lawsuit will help prevent the same thing from happening to anyone else.
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