Lawfully Forcing a 13 Year Old Girl

This twisted story comes via Windypundit by way of Hit and Run.  Conduct that would not only be viewed as criminal, but would be of such grave moral culpability that it will likely cause its perpetrator to spend many extra years in prison, and have his name put on a national registry to be treated as a hated pariah for the rest of his life, suddenly becomes okey-dokey with one tiny, itty-bitty, change in the fact pattern.  The person doing is a school principal.

Here are the facts, as relayed by the source from an  ACLU brief submitted to the 9th Circuit (which never gets anything wrong, by the way).



Savana Redding, an eighth grade honor roll student at Safford Middle School in Tucson, Arizona, was pulled from class on October 8, 2003 by the school’s vice principal, Kerry Wilson.  Earlier that day, Wilson had discovered [drugs] in the possession of Redding’s classmate….Under questioning and faced with punishment, the classmate claimed that Redding, who had no history of disciplinary problems or substance abuse, had given her the [drugs].


After escorting Redding to his office, Wilson presented Redding with the [drugs] and informed her of her classmate’s accusations. Redding said she had never seen the [drugs] before and agreed to a search of her possessions, wanting to prove she had nothing to hide. Joined by a female school administrative assistant, Wilson searched Redding’s backpack and found nothing. Instructed by Wilson, the administrative assistant then took Redding to the school nurse’s office in order to perform a strip search. 


In the school nurse’s office, Redding was ordered to strip to her underwear. She was then commanded to pull her bra out and to the side, exposing her breasts, and to pull her underwear out at the crotch, exposing her pelvic area. The strip search failed to uncover any [drugs].


“I was embarrassed and scared, but felt I would be in more trouble if I did not do what they asked,” said Redding in a sworn affidavit following the incident.  “The strip search was the most humiliating experience I have ever had.”


But there’s one little detail to make this story even better:

The punchline: The drugs in question were ibuoprofen pills—prescription-strength, 400-milligram pills (equivalent to a couple over-the-counter Advil caplets).

Now some might say that this reflects the unfortunate reality in which school administrators find themselves, trying hard to eliminate drugs from schools and being faced with “zero tolerance” policies that demand action, even though it seems harsh under particular circumstances.

To that, I say baloney.  I don’t care how much grocery clerks love their checklists.  You don’t do this to a 13 year old.  This is akin to the Nuremberg defense.  There must be a point at which any senscient being says to themselves, “this is crazy.” 

To the extent that anyone dismisses the impact of being forced to strip in front of someone, I have no doubt that this is traumatic to someone at that age.  I have a 13 year old son who would sooner punch me in the nose than let me see him naked.  They are very fragile at that age, as puberty takes its toll.  Wouldn’t you think an educator, or all people, would be acutely aware of this?

This is incredibly stupid, and even more-so sick.  Mind you, under any circumstances that didn’t involve the federal courts’ overwhelming deference to public schools authority, somebody would go to prison over this conduct.  How then can it be fine when done by a trusted educator?

6 comments on “Lawfully Forcing a 13 Year Old Girl

  1. Windypundit

    The only thing I can think of that makes it okay not to indict these people is that the school nurse was a medical professional and therefore it’s part of her job to examine naked children.

    But she wasn’t doing it for medical reasons, was she?

    It’s a bit like a woman whose doctor starts feeling her breasts during an exam, and when she asks him what he’s looking for, he says he just enjoys touching her breasts. Just because he’s a doctor, doesn’t make it okay.

  2. SHG

    While it would have been far worse had it not been a female nurse, this violation of a 13 year old girl was no better because of it.  The three most worthless, meaningless words are “it’s out policy…”  It’s her body.

  3. Kathleen

    This keeps bothering me. This is the government intemperately bearing down on the individual, in this case a child. Good for her mother for standing up to them.

    The courts’ deference to public school authority in civil liberties is like their deference to the prosecution in criminal cases. Yet point of our Bill of Rights is that the individual is more important than the sovereign. The courts should bear down hard on government and its representatives, whether as “experts” in education policy, or as prosecutors. This bears watching, doesn’t it?

  4. Simple Justice

    Schools Have Rules, Supreme Court Edition

    Long time readers will recall my first post about Savana Redding, the 13 year old 8th grade honor student who was subject to a strip search and body cavity inspection at school for fear that she possessed ibuprofen. The case will be argued before the Supreme Court on April 21st, and Adam Liptak garnered

  5. Simple Justice

    Schools Have Rules, Supreme Court Edition (Update)

    Long time readers will recall my first post about Savana Redding, the 13 year old 8th grade honor student who was subject to a strip search and body cavity inspection at school for fear that she possessed ibuprofen. The case will be argued before the Supreme Court on April 21st, and Adam Liptak garnered

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