NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Portsmouth Sheriff Bill Watson sat down with 10 On Your Side's Andy Fox to talk about the accusations surround nine female jail employees who say were illegally strip searched.
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. The workers who spoke to 10 On Your Side said they were taken into a private room and a female deputy forced them to take off their clothes for a strip search.
Watson told Andy Fox Wednesday that he doesn't think contraband was found on the day in question.
"We didn't find a gun or anything, but they have found different contraband on different people coming in," Watson says.
"I think it's a farce. We didn't do any body cavity searches. No one was touched. t's a strip search. You squat down and cough."
WAVY.com sat down with Watson and watched the alleged victims who claimed what happened to them was a violation of their constitutional rights.
"Yeah, I know $25 million dollar tears coming out," Watson said, referring to the extraordinary amount of money the lawsuit seeks
Watson pointed out the strip searches took place a year ago on April 22, 2011.
"This happened over a year ago," he said. "If they were so distraught then why would they keep coming to work for a year?"
WAVY.com asked Emma Floyd that question. She said they stayed on the job because all they wanted was a sheriff apology, and a promise to change the strip search policy.
Watson if he regrets what happened a year ago? "No. I regret they took it this way, but they are going to be searched in the jail. It's a jail," Watson said.
Watson says all shift workers on April 22, 2011 went through the strip searches due to contraband coming in the jail. None was found on that day, but Watson claims there was no more contraband after that search.
The workers who are suing work for a independent contractor who has placed the workers on paid administrative leave.
The sheriff told 10 On Your Side yesterday that safety is the main objective, 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.
More lawsuits are expected to be filed as the women now claim having their security clearances revoked is a violation of their rights.
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