Lawsuits say Wayne County Jail did illegal strip searches of female inmates

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New lawsuits say strip searches of female Wayne County Jail inmates took place in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

The women said they were subjected to crude remarks, and were embarrassed and humiliated. Now they are taking legal action against the county, the sheriff and guards.

"The worst experience I had, was being on my menstrual, being exposed to 10 other women watching my leakage," said Katrina Woodall.

Woodall says she's just one of several women made to strip naked during searches at the jail in full view of other inmates and male guards.

"That was something terrible for me for everybody to know how my body looks, every mark on my body," Woodall said.

She is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the county claiming her constitutional rights were violated. 

Her lawyer, Michael Dezsi, is also filing another suit on behalf of three women currently in the county jail who he says had similar experiences.

"The law is clear that women are not supposed to be strip searched and forcibly exposed to members of the opposite sex," Dezsi said.

Dezsi showed FOX 2 scores of statements he compiled from female inmates about the searches, dating back to 2009.

He says guards would make crude comments about the women's bodies and genitals.

"One woman was called a bleeding hog," Dezsi said. 

Dezsi says the manner in which the searches are conducted pose serious health risks.

"You have women who may be HIV-positive, they're put in rooms with three, four, five, six, seven other women," he said. "They are being forced to strip search while some of these women are on their menstrual cycles. There are bodily discharges on the floors, they are on the benches."

A spokeswoman for the county sheriff's office says the allegations are the subject of an internal investigation. 

"I feel like the only thing that should happen is, it shouldn't happen anymore," Woodall said.

That new lawsuit is aiming at doing just that, forcing the county to change how those searches are done.

FOX reached out to Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon who says he cannot comment on pending litigation.