Lawsuit says Portsmouth sheriff, deputy forced detainees to expose genitals to prove menstruation
A woman who was held at Portsmouth City Jail in May 2022 is suing the Portsmouth sheriff and a deputy over an incident in which she says the deputy forced her and at least one other female detainee to expose their genitals to prove they were menstruating.
The woman, Danaesha Martin, said in the suit filed Friday, April 7, in Portsmouth Circuit Court that the deputy ordered the detainees to expose themselves as a condition of obtaining sanitary products.
“The provision of a sanitary napkin, pad, and/or tampon by a correctional officer to a female detainee/inmate is a mere ministerial function that in no way requires the exercise of discretion,” reads Martin’s suit.
According to a copy of an email obtained by the Mercury, Portsmouth City Jail Chief Deputy of Jail Operations Lt. Col. Dorothy Dildy-Clemons wrote deputies shortly after the alleged May 2 incident that “at no time are you to ask female inmates to pulled [sic] down their pants and undergarments to visually see if they are on their cycle.”
“This can become a PREA issue that can escalate into a lawsuit,” wrote Dildy-Clemons, presumably referring to the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. “This is to stop immediately, expeditiously!!!”
Dildy-Clemons noted in the same email that the jail had “plenty” of sanitary products and directed deputies to log the names of inmates receiving such products and the quantity used.
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