OTTAWA — The federal strip search lawsuit against LaSalle County has become a class action with the filing of four more complaints, although the county’s attorney continues to label the allegations as being without merit.
“We’ve reviewed the complaints and we’re confident the practices are not unconstitutional,” said Jim Sotos, the Itasca lawyer hired by the county.
Four women and one man are suing the county over the alleged practice of removing a person’s clothing and then putting the suspect in a cell for a length of time with only a floor drain for a toilet. Rip-proof clothes or a blanket were eventually provided, the lawsuit claims.
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The lawsuit also alleges a video camera, which could be viewed by others, recorded the prisoners.
Dana Holmes of Coal City filed the original suit, claiming her rights were violated when she was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. New to the lawsuit are Andrea Welter, 29, of Sheridan, and Robin Sessler, 42, of Earlville, both originally charged with disorderly conduct; Pamela Barella, 38, of LaSalle, domestic battery; and Cris Muzzarelli, 30, Princeton, a civil warrant.
Muzzarelli is the only male to have filed.
“All of the county’s practices are within state and federal law,” Soto said. “We’re confident the lawsuit is not going to go anywhere. If they had done their research before filing and spinning the media, they would have realized that.”
The amount being sought is not listed in the lawsuit.