L.A. County to pay $53 million in class-action suit over strip searches of female inmates

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles County will pay $53 million to settle a lawsuit brought on by women who say they were given invasive strip searches at the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood.

Myeshia Williams says she's still traumatized from serving time in the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood.

But of all the moments of her incarceration, she says it's the strip searches performed by L.A. County deputies that still haunt her to this day.

"Sometimes I can't even have a proper doctor visit because I go back to those times to where I was degraded, treated like less than a human," she said.

Williams is one of more than 93,000 women who will receive part of a $53 million settlement from the county.

Deputies are accused of harassing and verbally abusing the women during strip searches.

Williams says she experienced it while pregnant.

"They yell at you, they scream at you, they tell you to open up your private parts," Williams said.

Attorneys for the case say when it comes to strip search litigation, the case is one of the worst they've seen.

They say the women were forced to bend over across from each other in rows.

Three million dollars of the settlement will go to several groups who will be paid to observe the deputies and recommend changes to the culture of the jail itself.

"Really the underlying problem is a culture of abuse," Battles said.

The Board of Supervisors has approved the settlement.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department issued a statement that said, in part, "The department's procedures and facilities for conducting searches is in full compliance with the law and respects the privacy of female inmates."

The civil rights settlement is now considered the largest in the county's history.
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