$750,000 Awarded For Strip-Search
By Sheriff's Dept.
Bill Wallace, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 20, 1999
A federal jury yesterday awarded $750,000 in civil damages to a woman who
was strip- searched without justification by the San Francisco Sheriff's
The U.S. District Court jury not only awarded Victoria Schneider $750,000
for the pain and suffering and emotional distress she had suffered, but
also imposed an individual damages judgment against the deputy who ordered
Schneider, who spoke with members of the jury after the verdict was announced,
said she was elated at the verdict.
``I feel that justice has finally been done, and am so happy that someone
finally believed my story,'' she said.
The strip search took place in June 1997 when Schneider, a postoperative
transsexual, was arrested for solicitation of prostitution by a San Francisco
vice squad officer.
The officer who arrested her identified Schneider as a male on her arrest
paperwork, although the notation was later changed to female. When Schneider
was delivered to City Jail for booking, deputies there expressed confusion
about how to book her.
Although Schneider told them that a check of her criminal history records
show she was female, she was taken into a male holding cell and subjected
to a strip search by a female deputy while other jail staffers laughed and
joked. She was later housed with other female prisoners.
During the trial, Deputy Fred Lew claimed he ordered the search because
Schneider's rap sheet indicated she had previously been arrested for using
Lew's story was contradicted by the vice officer who arrested Schneider,
who said she was not suspected of holding any drugs or other contraband
at the time she was arrested.
Clarence said a check of the state's criminal history computer showed that
nobody had made an inquiry about Schneider's previous arrests on the night
in question. She indicated that Lew's story had been made up after the fact
in order to excuse the search.