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Deputies strip-search woman in a parking lot
02:34 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

"It was embarrassing, degrading," Charnesia Corley tells CNN

She says a deputy pulled her pants down and put her fingers inside her

The sheriff's office says internal affairs is investigating the incident

CNN  — 

A woman says a sheriff’s deputy in Texas stripped her naked in a gas station parking lot and administered a cavity search of her genitals because of suspicions she was in possession of marijuana.

“It was embarrassing, degrading,” Charnesia Corley told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday. “I felt low, I felt helpless.”

The incident happened during a traffic stop in June in Harris County. A male sheriff’s deputy pulled Corley over and then searched her car after saying he smelled marijuana in it, she said.

After finding nothing, she said, he called a female officer out to search Corley.

“They took me around to the side of my car, and she tells me, ‘Pull your pants down,’” Corley told CNN.

Corley, who was handcuffed, said she told the female deputy that she didn’t have any underwear on.

The female deputy replied that it didn’t matter, pulled Corley’s pants down and then told her to bend over, Corley told CNN.

“I bent over and she proceeded to stick her fingers in me, and I popped up immediately and I told her, ‘No! What are you doing? You can’t do that to me,’ she said.

‘“I felt like they raped me’

The deputy told her that she could do what she wanted because it was a narcotics search, according to Corley.

After Corley resisted, another female deputy was apparently called to complete the search.

“I felt like they raped me,” Corley told CNN.

Her attorney, Samuel Cammack III, said that what the deputies did in the middle of a parking lot was unconstitutional.

“It wasn’t a strip search, it was a manual cavity search,” he told CNN.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that it was unable to comment on the matter “until the completion of an ongoing internal affairs investigation, and pending the status of civil litigation.”

“We anticipate that the office of Inspector General will share their findings with Sheriff Ron Hickman in accordance with state law and civil service procedures in the near future,” the statement said.

But Harris County Sheriff’s spokesperson Thomas Gilleland told CNN affiliate KTRK last week that the deputies did everything as they should.

Gilleland said one deputy wrote in the report that Corley said they could “strip search her if I needed to.”

Corley denied that she had given them her consent.

Corley believes it was discrimination

Cammack said the district attorney’s office has dropped charges against his client. According to KRTK, Corley had been charged with two misdemeanors: resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.

CNN wasn’t immediately able to reach the district attorney’s office for comment early Friday.

Corley, who is African-American, told CNN that she believed the deputies discriminated against her.

She said the male deputy was white, the first female deputy who arrived on the scene was African-American and the second was white.

Cammack said he wasn’t sure he’d go as far as to call what happened discriminatory.

“It’s more about police conduct, I think, than it is race,” he told CNN.

CNN’s Joe Sutton contributed to this report.