Editorial: Common sense finally prevailed in teen strip search case

It had to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but last week we saw evidence that justice and common sense do still exist in this country.

The High Court ruled that a male assistant principal in Safford was out of line when he ordered the strip search of a 13-year-old girl believed to be dealing drugs at the school.

That lower levels of the judiciary defended the man's action defies even the most basic sense of logic and decency.

It's not that the strip search of a suspected drug dealer, even if it is a juvenile, is out of line. The problem is that is was ordered by a man, an adult who should know better.

In their ruling, the justices wrote that assistant principal Kerry Wilson went too far in having the middle school student strip to her underwear and then to be forced to pull her bra out and to the side and shake it, and to pull out the elastic on her underpants, "exposing her breasts and pelvic area to some degree.'

There were all kinds of different ways this situation could have been handled to achieve the same desired result of determining if the girl indeed was dealing drugs.

One, you call the police and let them do their job of searching the student. There are police protocols for such searches that involve either the use of female officers or trained drug-scent dogs.

Or, Wilson could have asked for female administrators or other women at the school to thoroughly search the student. If drugs were found, then call the police.

But it's just plain and pure common sense that a man does not take it upon himself to order a 13-year-old girl to take off her clothes because he believes she may be hiding something from him. It bears emphasis that this action was taken by an assistant principal. One would think he would first consult with senior administrators before ordering a young girl to strip in the privacy of his office.

At the very least, he crossed the line of decency and common sense. Some would view his actions as criminal.

The U.S. Supreme Court proved its wisdom in calling this one an abuse of the Fourth Amendment guarantee to the right against "unreasonable searches or seizures' without a law enforcement officer having probable cause.

What's sad, befuddling and baffling is that it had to go this far before common sense prevailed.

Comments

Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comment submissions may not exceed a 200 word limit, and in order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.