PHILADELPHIA (CN) - The 3rd Circuit revived claims that sheriff's officers violated a female deputy's privacy rights by filming her naked as she went through a flea-decontamination process, and then sharing the film with others under the guise of "training."
Jane Doe says she was deputy sheriff with five years under her belt when she had to serve a bench warrant in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Once the partners left the disheveled house, which was littered with trash and even a dead cat, they found fleas crawling all over their bodies.
Chief Deputy Arthur Bobboiune soon arrived at the scene along with Deputy Chief Ryan Foy and two other deputies.
Foy, a superior officer, had brought a video camera and immediately began filming Doe and her partner as they awaited instruction in a police cruiser.
"Doe requested to exit the vehicle because of the high temperature and the fleas' continual biting," according to the complaint. But Bobbouine and Foy refused to limit the spread of fleas.
"Foy continued to film the scene, allegedly laughing at Doe and Szumski's plight and taunting them," the court summarized. "Doe testified at her deposition that she asked Foy to stop filming on at least four specific occasions during the events in question, but that he continued and told her at least one time to 'shut up' because it was for 'training purposes.'"
Bobbouine then ordered the flea-bitten deputies to use a decontamination facility at Mercy Hospital.
"As Doe approached, Foy exited the hospital and walked toward her, filming all the while," the court said. "Doe testified that she again demanded that Foy stop filming but that Foy refused and reiterated that he was filming for training purposes."
After showering in private, a female deputy had to examine Doe for remaining fleas. When Doe could not find towels, the other deputy told her to wrap her private areas with anything she could find.
Doe says she found a roll of semi-transparent thin paper, like that used to cover a doctor's examination table. Since she was still wet from the shower, however, the paper allegedly became more transparent.
"At this point, Doe's back was facing the door; most of her back, shoulders and legs were completely exposed, and the thin paper, which could have been semi-transparent, was wrapped around her buttocks and breasts," according to the court.
"While Joyce examined Doe for fleas, Bobbouine and Foy, unbeknownst to the two female deputies, opened the decontamination area's door approximately a foot and observed Doe. Foy began filming again. After viewing Doe for some unknown period of time, Bobbouine said, in reference to a tattoo on Doe's back, 'What's that shit all over your back?'"
Doe says she repeatedly yelled at Bobbouine and Foy to leave.
Once the other deputy had closed the door and finished the exam, Doe received hospital scrubs and went to the police station.
Foy uploaded the video onto his work computer later that day and called several male and female officers into his office to view the footage, according to the court.
"It is not clear what Foy showed those congregated in his office," the court said, noting that one female deputy, Mandy Leandri, had testified that she left in disgust when Foy showed a picture of the "bare buttocks" of Szumski, Doe's partner.