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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Rabbi Objects to Strip Search

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (CN) - A South Florida rabbi says he was strip searched in front of a female officer after being arrested for driving without a valid license. He says the strip search violated his constitutional rights and Palm Beach County's own regulations.

Rabbi Yedidya Cohen claims that "while in the custody of the Palm Beach County Jail, Sheriff Officers forced [him] to strip in front of a woman correctional official in violation of his Constitutional Rights and Palm Beach County's Correctional Procedures."

According to the arrest report, a Delray Beach Police officer pulled over Cohen for speeding. Cohen is a rabbi and cantor at the Chabad Synagogue in Boynton Beach.

The officer says that when he asked for Cohen's license, the rabbi replied, "I'm from Israel. I don't have an American driver's license."

But according to the arrest report, the officer cross-checked Cohen's Israeli driver's license and found that his New York State driver's license had been suspended. He arrested the rabbi on a misdemeanor traffic charge and took him to the Gun Club Road jail, where Cohen claims he was forced to disrobe in front of an unnamed female guard.

The Rabbi's attorney, Robert Rubin of Becker & Poliakoff, says he demanded copies of the incident report detailing the strip search, but that the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has not complied. Rubin filed a motion to compel production of the report and asked that the court fine the sheriff's office for refusing to supply the documents.

Rabbi Cohen says he was cleared of the traffic charges.

The sheriff's office records department and several sergeants at the Palm Beach County Jail said they could not provide the alleged strip-search report to Courthouse News.

The rabbi says he had to sue to recover attorney's fees and costs.

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