Judicially Authorized Rape: The Newest Weapon in the Prohibitionist Arsenal (William Norman Grigg)
Monday June 18th, 2012
Under Utah state law, "object rape" consists of the involuntary "penetration, however slight, of the genital or anal opening of another person who is 14 years of age or older, by any foreign object, substance, instrument, or device…." This act constitutes a form of aggravated sexual assault for which the penalty is a prison term of no less than ten years, followed by lifetime enrollment in the sex offender registry.
As 22-year-old Utah resident Stephan Cook discovered, the crime of object rape – like any other offense against person or property – can be transmuted into a policy option when it’s committed pursuant to a government decree.
While attending Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, four years ago, Cook and a friend were smoking cigarettes near a parked car when they were accosted by several police officers. Following the standard script, the officers – who, let us not forget, were trained to lie – claimed to smell marijuana and demanded to search the car.
Cook and his friend emptied their pockets and consented to a pat-down search. They permitted the officers to search the interior of the car several times with a drug-sniffing dog. Eventually a glass pipe was found in the trunk. Rather than arresting Cook, who was a passenger in the car, the officers ordered him to drive to a nearby police station, supposedly to save his friend the expense of an impound fee.
There was neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion to justify the search the car. By ordering Cook to drive to the station, the police made it clear that they did not believe that he was under the influence of marijuana.
Furthermore, Cook didn’t own the car, a fact that severs the thinnest thread connecting him to the glass pipe found in the trunk.
Yet the officers persisted in their effort to manufacture an offense. Cook was detained and informed that he would have to undergo a drug test. When the police demanded that he sign a waiver of his rights, Cook – whose parents are police officers -- repeatedly and explicitly demanded access to an attorney.
"I asked for an attorney because I didn’t know if this was right," Cook recalled in a television interview. "Once I did that, they said ‘We’re getting a search warrant so we’re going to have your urine by the end of the night.’" A "bodily fluids warrant" was issued "authorizing" the cops to obtain a urine sample. It did not, however, specify that the sample could be taken by force. Lindsay Jarvis, Cook’s attorney, informed Pro Libertate that the warrant was issued by a judicial "commissioner," rather than a judge.
Since the police considered Cook sufficiently sober to drive, they clearly weren’t facing exigent circumstances. Even if we make the unwarranted assumption that the police were entitled to take a urine sample, they had the luxury of collecting one at leisure – but this wouldn’t have satisfied whatever prurient interest they had in inflicting unnecessary pain on a teenage male.
Cook’s abductors took him to the Sanpete Valley Hospital, where Nurse Ratched told them "to hold my shoulders and she undoes my pants and wipes me down with iodine, catheterized me and took my urine," the victim recalls.
Ms. Jarvis points out that the purpose of this procedure was clearly punitive, not investigative: "Rather than employ a simple blood test, they’re forcibly catheterizing these people."
This satisfies another element of the statutory definition of object rape: The act was committed with the "intent to cause substantial emotional or bodily pain to the victim."
After sexually assaulting Cook, the offenders charged the victim with possession of marijuana and resisting arrest. Even before the matter was brought before a judge, Cook was also slapped with immediate disciplinary action by Snow College.
"The commissioner who issued the warrant was also on the college disciplinary board," Jarvis observed in a phone interview with Pro Libertate. "So his student account was immediately put on hold until he completed a two-month class on alcohol and drug abuse. He wasn’t able to complete his midterms, or register for the following semester. This cost him a lot of money on what amounts to wasted tuition."
Rather than being prosecuted, two of the officers who sexually assaulted Cook– Chad Huff and Justin Aagard –have been promoted. Huff is now Chief of Police in Fountain Green, Utah, and Aagard has been appointed to the same post in nearby Moroni City. In the interest of civic integrity, the municipal governments of Fountain Green and Moroni City should post a warning informing visitors that their respective police departments are under the direction of violent sex offenders.
Cook, who was forced to take a plea, has filed an $11 million lawsuit against Sanpete County. This has drawn the predictable shoulder-shrug response from county attorney Peter Stirba. "My client officers certainly did not do anything wrong," Stirba declares, insisting that "the officers were acting pursuant to a lawful court order requiring catheterization of Mr. Cook."
Leaving aside the fact that no document or directive can make the act of object rape "lawful," the warrant to which Stirba refers was issued by a county functionary who had no legal training of any kind – and it did not require catheterization. The painful and degrading procedure was inflicted on Cook for the purpose of punishing him for invoking his rights, and to terrorize his friend into compliance: After witnessing what had been done to Cook, the owner of the vehicle surrendered a urine sample "voluntarily."
The gratuitously vicious nature of this episode is further underscored by the fact that although Cook was booked into jail after being violated, the urine samples were never tested, and no record was made of his visit to the hospital.
"What they did was wrong – and I’m pretty sure they’re doing it to other people," Cook observes. Indeed, there’s reason to believe that object rape of this variety has become a preferred tactic in the "war on drugs."
"It was like I had been raped … and all those guards were helping," testified Haley Owen Hooper of her own "forced catheterization" by Sevier County deputies in December 2004.
Hooper (known at the time as Haley Owen) was a 20-year-old who stood about 5’1" and weighed about 105 pounds. She was pinned beneath a thugscrum of at least four officers – one of whom later gave a self-serving estimate that he weighed 260 pounds. As she struggled beneath a half-ton of tax-subsidized suet, her pants and underwear were removed so a licensed practical nurse could insert the catheter.
A few seconds before the assault began, Hooper had pleaded for the deputies to draw blood instead of sexually violating her.
"I screamed, `Why can’t you just take my blood?’" Hooper testified at trial. "The guy in the black cowboy hat said, `The judge wants urine. We’re going to take urine.’"
That was a lie, of course. A magistrate had issued a "body fluids" warrant, but it did not specify a urine sample. Furthermore, the affidavit requesting the warrant was "weak and misleading," in the words offederal District Judge K.K. McIff. The officer claimed that Hooper, who was arrested following a traffic stop, was "belligerent and uncooperative … fidgety and nervous," behavior that he described as "consistent with the use of a central nervous system stimulant." He also claimed that the stop was conducted because it was "known by the officers that Haley [Hooper] didn’t have a drivers [sic] license."
The trained liar who filed that affidavit carefully avoided the fact that the "traffic stop" was actually carried out by the Central Utah Narcotics Task Force, who thought that the car was be driven by another person. It wasn’t until the vehicle was stopped that the officers realized that Miss Hooper was behind the wheel. She had committed no traffic infractions to justify the stop. Her agitated behavior – which included treating her captors to some pungent epithets – was not evidence of drug use, but the predictable result of being surrounded by more than a half-dozen strangers who pointed guns at her and barraged her with threats and profane, abusive language.
Judge McIff’s Memorandum Decision recalls that when the officers demanded to search the vehicle, Hooper "challenged the officers’ authority" by refusing to cooperate. They replied that "they knew more about the law than she did and that they could search anyway." Although nothing incriminating could be found, Hooper’s "contemptuous" attitude simply couldn’t be countenanced – so she was taken to a nearby hospital for summary punishment in the form of sexual humiliation.
The only suitable description of what was done to Hooper is "gang rape" – albeit through the use of an object. Just before that crime was committed, the perpetrators, seeking to preserve the fiction that what they did was legal, placed a phone call to the court clerk to ask if the warrant would apply to both blood and urine. That phone call wouldn’t have been necessary if, as the rapist in the black cowboy hat claimed, the judge had instructed them to collect urine.
The clerk, who allegedly conferred with the judge, supposedly said that the warrant would include the forcible extraction of a urine sample. There is no way to know whether that conversation took place, because no printed or audio record was made of the phone call.
In July 2010, federal District Judge Dee Benson dismissed Hooper’s lawsuit against the Task Force on the grounds of "qualified immunity." This means that as things presently stand, police in Utah are free to commit object rape in order to teach an object lesson to Mundanes who commit the unforgivable offense called "contempt of cop." Similar conditions prevail elsewhere in the Soyuz.
Last September, a federal district court for southern Indiana dismissed a lawsuit filed by Jamie Lockard, who was subjected to a forced catheterization following a traffic stop for supposedly running a stop sign in March 2009. Officer Brian Miller, once again sticking to the preferred script, claimed that he smelled alcohol on Lockard’s breath. A Breathalyzer test returned a BAC of 0.07 – which is under Indiana’s legal limit.
Rather than apologizing for his unwarranted intrusion and bidding Lockard good evening, Miller demanded that Lockard submit to a chemical test. When the motorist refused, Miller abducted (or, as he would say, "arrested") him, filled out a pre-printed application for a search warrant, and faxed it to the local judge. Since this happened at 12:10 a.m., it’s not unreasonable to believe that the warrant Miller obtained was the product of a less than rigorous judicial deliberation.
After Lockard was taken to Dearborn County Hospital, Miller demanded that he provide a sample. Since he was unable to pee on command, Lockard was charged with "obstruction" – a class D felony -- because "he refused to voluntarily give a urine sample," according to Miller’s report. Miller and another officer, Michael Lanning, pinned the victim down while a nurse prepared the catheter.
Originally, the nurse planned to use a straight size 16 Foley catheter. After Lockard pointed out that he suffers from an enlarged prostate, she switched to a smaller Coude catheter. This didn’t improve things for the victim: Lockard described the pain he experienced as "just as if somebody would take a burning hot coal and stick it up your penis."
For several weeks after the incident, Lockard suffered severe burning sensations and other symptoms described by a physician as "consistent with clinical prostatis." After spending some time in jail, Lockard was forced to take a plea for reckless driving. He was given a 180 day suspended sentence, 180 days’ probation, a $100 fine, and assessed $165.00 in court costs.
Lockard’s lawsuit was dismissed on the familiar, and incurably specious, grounds of "qualified immunity." The ruling took note of more than a half-dozen precedents involving forced catheterization, all of which grant studiously ambiguous permission for police to violate people suspected of harboring "evidence" in the bloodstream. Significantly, two of those precedents – Sparks v. Stutler and Levine v. Roebuck – involved forced catheterization of inmates by prison officials. In each of those cases, a district court judge ruled that the procedure was an impermissible violation of the individual – only to be reversed by a federal judge who decreed that members of the State’s punitive caste enjoy "qualified immunity" to commit object rape, at least with a judge’s consent.
The events described in Lockard v. Lawrenceburg – the case offering the most detailed examination of the issue of object rape by police officers – occurred in Indiana. That state recently enacted a measure recognizing the innate right of innocent people to use lethal defensive force against police officers who commit criminal aggression against their personsor property. I’d like to believe that those two developments are related.
William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.
Copyright © 2012 William Norman Grigg