Psych Records Ruled Out in Strip-Search Case

PITTSBURGH (CN) – A federal judge refused to demand psychiatric records from a correction officer accused of carrying out a five-hour cavity search.

Kimberlee Rae Carbone contends that the invasive but ultimately fruitless ordeal began on Nov. 3, 2013, when a police officer who pulled her over in New Castle, Pennsylvania, claimed to smell burnt marijuana.

As detailed in her 2015 complaint, Carbone was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, but no field-sobriety test was performed, nor did the officer find any illegal items in a search of her person or vehicle.

At the Lawrence County Jail, Carbone says April Brightshue and a second corrections officer carried out what would be the first of a series of strip searches.

During their visual inspection of Carbone’s genitals, Brightshue and the second officer allegedly claimed to see a plastic bag protruding from her vagina. Carbone says they then forced her, crying, to probe inside her own vagina with her fingers “to remove an unknown item later determined not to exist.”

Medical professionals later restrained Carbone and subjected to her to additional searches and a CT scan at Jameson Health Systems, according to the complaint.

Claiming that she was released without charge after five hours of demeaning searches, Carbone seeks punitive damages for assault.

U.S. District Judge Maureen Kelly issued a March 9 ruling in the case that says Carbone cannot compel Brightshue to produce her psychatric records.

“In the instant case, the Court finds not only that Defendant Brightshue’s psychotherapeutic records are privileged but that Plaintiff has not met her burden of establishing their relevance,” Kelly wrote. “Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has specifically held that confidential communications between licensed psychotherapist and psychologists and their patients during the course of treatment are privileged and protected from disclosure.”

Neither the New Castle Police Department nor the Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office returned phone calls and emails seeking statement.

Carbone is represented by Stanley Booker in New Castle.