2 Texas cops indicted over roadside cavity searches

One trooper was charged with 2 counts of sexual assault and 2 counts of official oppression; the other was charged for theft after a prescription allegedly went missing

By Jennifer Emily
The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS — Two Department of Public Safety troopers were indicted Monday by a Dallas County grand jury after two women alleged roadside searches during a traffic stop included the penetration of their vaginas and anuses.

Kelly Helleson is the trooper accused of performing the searches with the same latex glove. She was indicted on two counts of sexual assault and two counts of official oppression.

The trooper who called Helleson to conduct the search, David Farrell, was indicted on a charge of theft by a public servant. The searches were captured by a dashboard video camera.

An attorney for Helleson, Bob Baskett, called the charges against his client "completely bogus."

"I have no explanation for it, except for the grand jury disregarded the law," he said. "She got consent from these women to conduct a search inside their clothes."

Baskett said that Helleson passed a polygraph that showed she explained the search to the women and that there was no sexual penetration.

Farrell, 33, could not be reached for comment and it was not known Monday whether he had hired an attorney.

Helleson, 33, was fired by DPS and is appealing that decision. Farrellis is on paid suspension, pending the outcome of an internal investigation. The cases were referred to the grand jury to determine what, if any, charges should be filed.

The two women, Angel Dobbs and her niece, Ashley Dobbs, are suing the state troopers in federal court, alleging they were subjected to an illegal and humiliating "roadside body cavity search" during a traffic stop. The lawsuit says the search occurred on State Highway 161 in or near Irving on the night of July 13.

Both women were at the criminal courthouse Friday near downtown. Their attorney, Scott Palmer, said Friday both women were briefly called into the grand jury room. He declined to discuss any testimony. He could not be reached for comment Monday.

The women claim that Helleson used her fingers to search their anuses and vaginas while on the side of the road in full view of passing vehicles. They said Farrell called Helleson to the scene after stopping the women's vehicle and questioning them about marijuana. Farrell told them he stopped them after seeing them throw cigarette butts out of the window, according to the lawsuit. He asked for searches because he said the women were "acting weird," the suit said.

Farrell searched the car for marijuana but didn't find any. He then tried to "morph this situation into a DWI investigation," the lawsuit said.

Angel Dobbs passed a sobriety test and the women were given warnings for littering, the suit said. The lawsuit alleges that Angel Dobbs suffered an irritated cyst during the search, causing "severe and continuing pain and discomfort."

"Angel Dobbs was overwhelmed with emotion and a feeling of helplessness and reacted stating that Helleson had just violated her in a most horrific manner," the lawsuit said.

Theft by a public servant is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in the county jail. Sexual assault is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and official oppression is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up a year in the county jail. No court dates have been set, according to court records.

Copyright 2013 The Dallas Morning News

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