State Police revising policies as a result of settlement

By Lawrence Smith | Jan 14, 2013

CHARLESTON – The State Police has agreed to both a payout and to make certain policy changes to settle a Wirt County woman’s “sexually intrusive” warrantless arrest suit.

U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin on June 28 ordered the case of Glenna Sue Conley v. Sgt. A.D. Nichols, et. al. placed on the inactive docket after U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary E. Stanley announced the sides mediated a settlement. The terms were not disclosed in court records.

When contacted, Georgia Lee Gates, Conley’s attorney, referred questions to the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia’s office in Charleston. Brenda Green, ACLU-WV’s executive director, said the settlement included a payout, which she was not at liberty to disclose due to a confidentiality agreement, and a commitment by the State Police to revise its policies and procedures when dealing with female suspects.

According the state Board of Risk and Insurance Management, Conley received a settlement of $110,000, of which $10,000 went to pay Gates’ fees and expenses. Also, BRIM paid the State Police’s $23,503.65 legal bill, the lion’s share of which went to the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson.

A Freedom of Information Act sent by the West Virginia Record to the State Police for the settlement terms remains open. In an interview conducted Nov. 30, Virginia G. Lanham with the State Police’s legal division said the attorneys “were still working on it.”

In her suit, Conley said Nichols and Cpl. G.W. McCullough arrived at her home in Elizabeth around 11 p.m. on June 28, 2010, to question her about a petty theft she witnessed more than a week earlier. The then-boyfriend of Conley’s daughter was suspected of lifting $76 from the purse of Eydie Elizabeth McVeigh, an agent for McGrady Jones Insurance.

According to her suit, Conley answered Nichols’ questions when he twice visited her at work after he “learned through uninvolved individuals” about the theft. When she refused to answer any more of questions during his nighttime visit to her home, Nichols declared “You’re going to jail,’” and placed Conley under arrest, the suit claims.

Before leaving her home, Conley maintains Nichols ignored her repeated pleas to allow her to get dressed, the suit says. In the course of taking her from her home to the awaiting police cruiser, Conley alleges her robe, the only garment she was wearing, came undone, exposing her breasts.

After being put in the cruiser with her wrists handcuffed behind her back, Conley asked Nichols to close her robe, the suit says. According to her suit, he refused, telling her “to shut the (explitive deleted) up.”

It was only prior to booking did Nichols close, and tie her robe, Conley says.

After spending the night in jail, Conley was arraigned the next morning in Wirt Magistrate Court on charges of receiving stolen property, obstructing and providing false information to an officer and later released in bond. According to her suit, the charges were later dismissed on Sept. 1, 2010, on a motion by the Wirt County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

According to information provided by the State Police, McCullough, who became a trooper in 1995, is still assigned to the Wirt County detachment. However, Nichols, who became a trooper in 1998, was transferred on an unspecified date to the planning and research department in Dunbar.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia (Parkersburg), case number 11-cv-413

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