Stripper search: “There was no flesh exposed whatsoever,” official says

(July 8, 2011; Daytona, FL)

Daytona Beach Shores Public Safety Director Stephan Dembinsky says female officer ran hands through waistbands of exotic dancers.

Six employees of a Daytona Beach Shores nightclub who sued the city’s police department over illegal strip searches were not forced to remove their clothing, a city official said today.

“There was no flesh exposed whatsoever,” Public Safety Director Stephan Dembinsky said. “It was no more than a female officer running her hands through the waistbands of their clothing.”

Dembinsky, one of 20 male officers who observed the search of four exotic dancers and two female bartenders at Biggins Gentleman’s Club in September 2009, said he had no idea that what took place amounted to a strip search under Florida statutes.

The dancers wear bikinis when they perform and the bartenders are fully dressed.

Under state law, strip searches must be conducted by a person of the same sex and any observers must be of the same gender as the person being searched.

“I did not know that was the description of a strip-search,” he said.

But U.S. District Judge Mary E. Scriven said Dembinsky should have known.

Scriven was critical of Dembinsky in an order she signed in May that denied a motion to have the case dismissed.

“Even if he was unsure of the existence of probable cause, Chief Dembinsky knew that the manner and means of the execution of the strip searches was unlawful, yet, as final policymaker he concedes he did nothing,” Scriven wrote in her order.

“We don’t know why the judge ruled what she did,” Dembinsky said. He said he disagrees with Scriven, “but she is a federal judge and I’m not.”

Officers served a search warrant at the club after undercover officers made controlled buys of drugs inside the club.

Although arrests were made as part of the undercover operation, none of the six employees in the suit were among them, said their attorney, Brett Hartley. One of the women was found to have a marijuana cigarette during the strip search, but misdemeanor marijuana possession charges against her were later dropped, Hartley said.

Scriven this week signed off on a settlement in which the six women received $195,000. Most of the money went to play legal fees. The women received $5,000 each.

Dembinsky also said the decision to pay the money was made by the city’s insurance carrier because it was cheaper to settle than fight the suit.

source: Orlando Sentinel
July 8, 2011
by Gary Taylor, or 407-391-9681


Illegally strip-searched strippers awarded $195,000

The city of Daytona Beach Shores will pay a $195,000 settlement to four strippers who were illegally strip-searched.

The federal lawsuit arose from a September 2009 raid on Biggins Gentlemen’s Club, the Florida bar where the women worked, reports the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.

Undercover cops who were investigating the club obtained an “all-persons search warrant” and used it to search everyone on the premises, including four dancers and two female bartenders. The lawyer representing the six employees, Brett Hartley, told the Sentinel the women were strip-searched in front of 20 male officers.

That violates state law that stipulates strip searches must be conducted (and observed) only by people of the same gender as the detained person, said Judge Mary E. Scriven.

The judge agreed such a warrant is illegal and called it “unconstitutionally overboard.”

Lawyer Hartley said most of the settlement money will go to paying his fees, and the women will receive $5,000 each.

source: QMI Agency
July 8, 2011

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