A woman is suing the Hamilton County government and two Hamilton County Sheriff's deputies for $11 million after she says one of them, during the course of her arrest, stripped to his underwear and baptized her at Soddy Lake, in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee.
The deputies named in the lawsuit are Deputy Daniel Wilkey and Deputy Jacob Goforth.
Newsweek reports that Shandle Marie Riley is the plaintiff in the lawsuit and claims that the incident happened back on February 6th, between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. The woman's attorney, Robin Flores, argues the actions of both Wilkey and Goforth violated several of the woman's constitutional rights. And due to a history of misconduct and an alleged lack of punishment, the county is also liable.
Riley says she was driving alone, and pulled into a gas station, where Wilkey was, and bought cigarettes and gas. Later, Deputy Wilkey pulled her car over in the driveway of a friend's home, where her minor child was staying.
The lawsuit says Deputy Wilkey told Riley he believed she possessed methamphetamine, and ordered her out of the vehicle. The lawsuit says Wilkey then searched her "unlawfully," covering every area of her body. It claims Wilkey then asked her to "reach under her shirt and pull out her bra and shake the bra and shirt." Riley says she asked if a female officer could be present for the search, to which Wilkey replied "the law did not require" it.
Wilkey then asked if she had anything illegal in her car. She replied that she had a marijuana "roach" in a pack of cigarettes, and gave him the pack. Wilkey then searched the vehicle, and according to the lawsuit "insulted the plaintiff," calling her a "piece of shit," saying she was lying about not having other drugs.
But the lawsuit says Wilkey found nothing other than the "roach."
The lawsuit says Wilkey then asked her if she was "saved" and believed in Jesus Christ. She responded that she believed in Jesus Christ, but that she was not "saved" by her own choice.
The lawsuit goes on to say Wilkey told Riley that "God was talking to him during the vehicle search, and [he] felt the Lord wanted him to baptize the plaintiff.," and said that he felt "the spirit."
Wilkey then told Riley to get towels inside the home for a baptism, and said he would issue her only a criminal citation for marijuana and not take her to jail, according to the lawsuit. Riley says she got the towels, and followed Wilkey in his patrol car, not saying where he was taking her.
Riley says she was afraid to ignore Wilkey and not do as he commanded.
The two arrived at Soddy Lake, and were joined by Deputy Goforth. The lawsuit says Wilkey told Riley that Goforth was needed as a witness for the baptism to be "valid."
The lawsuit says Wilkey then stripped down to his boxer shorts, and gave Riley the option to remove her clothes, which she declined. It says Wilkey then led her to waist deep, cold water, put one hand on her back and the other on her breasts, and submerged her underwater for "several moments." At this moment, Riley says she "felt horribly violated."
Then, according to the lawsuit, Wilkey used one towel to dry off and let Riley dry off with the other one, while Goforth "smirked" at her as she was using it.
Flores argues that the county's failure to address the alleged misconduct "created an environment that allowed [Wilkey and Goforth] to believe that abusive behavior would not be properly monitored, investigated not punished and was tantamount to a policy of the County." And led them to believe they would "not be punished in any significant way."