Free-Range Kids

Cops Strip-Searched a 4-Year-Old After Mom's Errand Took Too Long

Child services called because Holly Curry let her kids wait in the car while she bought a muffin.


A mom who let her six children wait ten minutes in the car while she ran in to get them muffins at a local Kentucky cafe is the focus of this oped I co-authored in The Washington Post.

Perhaps you can guess what happened next to the mom, Holly Curry. In fact, I'll bet you can. Though it was 67 degrees and partly cloudy, and though it is statistically safer to let kids wait in the car than drag them across a parking lot—the heart-wrenching stories of kids who die in cars almost always involve children forgotten there for hours, not simply waiting out an errand—Curry found herself in trouble with the police:

When she came out less than 10 minutes later, two officers rebuked Curry for leaving her kids in the car. They told her she wasn't being arrested, just "detained." She started to cry and asked permission to call her husband, Josiah, but that request was denied. No one asked to see the kids, still sitting in the car.

The officers told Curry that while they were not charging her with any crime, they were going to file a "JC3 form" — a hotline-type alert to the Kentucky child protection system.

The next day a child protective services investigator showed up, eventually with a sheriff's deputy. All this is laid out in a lawsuit the Currys are now pursuing.

The two authorities insisted on entering Holly's home, though they had no warrant, warning her that if she stood her constitutional ground and forbid them entry, they would return and take her kids, the lawsuit alleges. Curry let them in.

Once inside, the woman from CPS:

…questioned Curry about her home life. Curry answered fully, the lawsuit said, worried that any refusal would add to her peril. The investigator insisted on taking the youngest child from Curry's lap and, without permission, began to undress her. In the presence of the male deputy, the investigator proceeded to undress each child, male and female, down to the genitals (removing the diapers of the two youngest). Curry tried to object, but she knew she was powerless to stop the investigator from doing full-body inspections.

The last to be undressed was her 4-year-old son, taught by his pediatrician that he should never let a stranger take his clothes off without his mom's okay. But when the boy tried to make eye contact with Curry, the investigator stood directly in his line of sight, leaving him helpless. Then the investigator pointed to the deputy and said, "Show that cop your muscles!" The little boy removed his shirt and flexed his biceps as ordered. The investigator and deputy began laughing while the investigator started to pull down his pants. When the little boy finally was able to look back at his mother, she was holding back tears. The little boy's face registered shame and fear.

About two weeks later, Holly was found not guilty of child neglect. But why did a muffin stop end up with a strip search at all? How dare the authorities not only second-guess a mom's very safe decision, but take their investigation so far beyond the bounds of common sense—and decency? That's what motivated the Currys to file their federal civil rights lawsuit that challenges the entry into their home under coercion, the seizure of the children inside the home, and the strip-searches.

Local Kentucky lawyers and the national Home School Legal Defense Association are counsel in the case.

If they win, it will reinforce what should be a given: Parents deserve the right to make seat-of-the-pants decisions that do not put their kids in any real, obvious and statistically likely danger. Waiting 10 minutes for muffins falls into that no-real-danger category.

My co-author on this piece was Diane Redleaf, co-chair of United Family Advocates, a bipartisan federal policy advocacy network, and a legal consultant to Let Grow. Together we are trying to keep helicopter parenting from becoming the law of the land—one muffin at a time.

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  1. Robby, you’re handling Lenore’s beat now? Give us a “To be sure…” if they’re making you do this against your will.

    1. Wow. That was fixed quickly. Now I think I’m being gaslit. Robby’s name was at the top until a minute ago…

      1. Sure it was. You can tell the nice man all about it.

        1. JC3 form filed…

        2. Cops are worse than worthless. They prevent almost zero crimes, solve almost zero crimes, and are AVID deniers of our constitutional rights. It is past time to realize that most (not all) cops are not only worthless, but actually DANGEROUS to both citizens’ lives and constitutional rights.

    2. Palin’s Buttplug jerked off to this article. As did Pedo Jeffy.

  2. Jesus. Fucking. Christ. What is wrong with people?

    1. Authority and a superior sense of morality?

      1. Or common sense might cost them their jobs? Can morality and common sense coexist? Apparently, not with authority, too.

    2. The only way this would ever be fixed is having all judicial actions rebound on the perpetrator.

      Get some muscle bound gay weightlifter to undress the cop and investigator in front of their parents, or in public. No warning, any time in the next 3 months will do fine. Of course the cop and investigator could buy their way out, at a freely negotiated price with this mother.

      The fun would continue as other cops went out of their way to harass the mother and fell afoul of their own retribution games.

      1. In reality, I place my bets on this result:

        Feeding frenzy for lawyers and court officials all around.

        A few tens of thousands of dollars, at the VERY most, go to mom and kids for pain and suffering. Taxpayers pay up!

        Not one cop or CPS (Children-lusting Perverts Associated) employee will lose a dollar of pay, let alone their job.

        Cops and CPS perverts will be “severely admonished”, or even, perhaps, “reprimanded”.

        In a few months or years at most, this same sort of shit will happen all over again! Locally that is… It will happen again somewhere in the USA tomorrow, or perhaps even today.

        1. I suspect you’re correct. I still hope the family wins the lawsuit.

        2. ‘Cops and CPS perverts will be “severely admonished”, or even, perhaps, “reprimanded”.’

          Followed by a promotion in six months.

          1. They’ll win. Lawyers get windfall. Mom gets table scraps. Taxpayers get the bill. Cops and CPS prevs get promotion and a run at local offices. They’ll be heralded as protectors of children and somehow women. They will be nestled in the Progressive’s bosom.

            YAY government!

    3. Seriously you’d think people with kids know about CPS and leaving kids in the car for any amount of time.

      1. Yeah, just OBEY and you won’t be harmed.

        1. Arranging compliance with child welfare laws seems reasonable.

          1. Thank you, Rev. Orwell.

          2. What fucking law, you deplorable peace of shit?

            1. The law that says you have to comply with any order a cop or a CPS agent gives you. There must be one, right?

          3. You being beaten with a 2×4 seems reasonable.

      2. The fact that HSLDA is involved is a good clue to how this went down. I’ve been to their seminars on what to do when CPS comes to the door. Basically, if they don’t respect your rights, you set them up for a lawsuit. Not that that’s a bad thing in some cases but HSLDA is all about the lawsuits. They once asked me to let my 12 year old son roam around the neighborhood so he could get picked up for a curfew violation so they could sue.

        HSLDA is not a libertarian organization; they’re the opposite. They want homeschooling legal but in the same way some people want pot legal- totally regulated and restricted as to who can sell and how.

        1. That’s a very specific claim re HSLDA (the part about them asking you to let your 12 y/o roam around the neighborhood for the express purpose of getting arrested or detained so that HSLDA could sue). There are very few attorneys/staff employed by HSLDA. Please advise who from HSLDA requested or instructed you in this regard, and when. Because it’s a very serious allegation that should either be investigated by HSLDA, or is instead libelous (IMO). It’s certainly a very specific factual statement, not opinion or hyperbole. So as an HSLDA member, I’d like to know which it is (fact or a lie — and if it’s a fact that you are willing to back up, then I’d hope there would be an investigation by HSLDA into who told you this. I do have my doubts.)

    4. The Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts are cracking down on the child molesters and abusers, where would you expect them to go?

      1. Argentina?

      2. The ACLU and other leftist clubs promoting 8 year olds in drag dancing at gay clubs.

        1. Of course, if it were little girls doing sexy dances for a crowd of men, they’d go hysterical about it.

    5. Authoritay is a helluva drug.

    6. The police realized that the mother put these children at risk of being sexually molested by strangers, and they were right. The fact that it was the police who did the molesting is irrelevant.

      Let this be a lesson to her. Don’t leave your children unattended. They WILL be molested. And in the event there aren’t any random pedos skulking around the muffin shop parking lot, the government will provide them.

    7. since when are cops and CPS social workers people?

  3. The investigator insisted on taking the youngest child from Curry’s lap and, without permission, began to undress her. In the presence of the male deputy, the investigator proceeded to undress each child, male and female, down to the genitals (removing the diapers of the two youngest). Curry tried to object, but she knew she was powerless to stop the investigator from doing full-body inspections.

    The last to be undressed was her 4-year-old son, taught by his pediatrician that he should never let a stranger take his clothes off without his mom’s okay. But when the boy tried to make eye contact with Curry, the investigator stood directly in his line of sight, leaving him helpless. Then the investigator pointed to the deputy and said, “Show that cop your muscles!” The little boy removed his shirt and flexed his biceps as ordered. The investigator and deputy began laughing while the investigator started to pull down his pants. When the little boy finally was able to look back at his mother, she was holding back tears. The little boy’s face registered shame and fear.

    What the fuck?

    1. It seems to me that in this case, where a parent’s ability to care for the well being of her children was doubted by individuals in authority, the individuals in authority sent their representatives to ascertain said parent’s ability to care for/protect her children.

      To what purpose did the representatives strip the children of their clothing?

      1. They had to justify their visit somehow, so they made up an investigation into child abuse. The children were just pawns in the game of fuck with the mother who disrespected authority.

        1. So, abuse the kids in order to save them from abuse.

          1. Its about making the kids know that the government can do what it wants when it wants.

            1. Bingo.

        2. Except that, according to the article above, the mom did respect their authority. And they bullied her and abused her kids anyway.

          I’d like to think that if it happened to me, I would stand on principle and demand that they return with a warrant – and that I’d have the presence of mind (and financial resources) to have an attorney on hand when they returned.

      2. The most logical explanation seems to be that they are some kind of pedophiles.

        Also, good to see comments from you again, Charles. You remain a most esteemed gentleman and a scholar.

        1. Thank you, Chipper.

          It has been an amount of time since I commented here or elsewhere.

      3. Looking for bruises.

        “Show that cop your muscles!” was actually a neat trick to allay the boy’s fear via distraction. Probably a stock line, but a good one. If it makes a child a little less afraid, it’s worth it.

        The trouble with these actions is that they’re categoric rather than particularized. The police were required to report a perceived incident of endangerment, but then once that was reported, rather than being particularized to the circumstances, it was treated as generic “suspected abuse”. What kind of abuse? They deliberately don’t particularize, probably because of some rule designed to protect the innocent and to not embarrass them. That is, if they strip search everybody then they’re not implying that anybody in particular did any particular act of abuse.

        1. Not “required to report” by any stretch of the imagination.

        2. “was actually a neat trick to allay the boy’s fear via distraction”

          Based on what happened next, I’d say it had nothing to do with allaying his fears and everything to do with getting him to stop trying to hold his pants up against the CPS agent’s efforts to pull them down.

          1. Please don’t give tips on technique here—we have a couple of regulars who might use them.

      4. Shits and grins. Rousting weed smokers can get really tedious. A little kiddie diddling helps with morale.

    2. You know you’ve done really fucked up when even Crusty doesn’t have a sarcastic retort.

    3. Yea, in order to check for child abuse, they needed to commit child abuse. I hope this woman and her husband sue the ever-living fuck out of the police department and CPS. What the fuck is wrong with people today?

      1. I blame video games and rap music.

        1. Seems likely, although it could also be cosmic rays.

          1. Come on, in 2019 everything is Trump’s fault.

  4. Whether it’s kids or critters left in vehicles, there’s a sensitivity created by news reports of them dying after being left for long periods of time. If the cops don’t appear to “do something” they and the child services people are afraid they will be accused of inaction. So, it’s a two-fer possibility for the media: either “get” the parent or “get” the authorities. Either one works.

    1. The perfect recipe for media. Rile up a mob and invite them to stay tuned for further updates. And now a word from our sponsor…

    2. But other than Reason the media never address the government abuses they only cover the dead kids and cry for more givernment

      1. “givernment”

        Hi, John!

    3. Perhaps the authorities lack the ability to predict how long unattended children are to be left unattended?

      1. They found that out when the mother returned, moron.

        1. Do you contend that others should be required to babysit the children until the parent returns?

          1. I think that reasonable people contend that “the punishment should fit the crime”. As the article noted, dragging 6 kids across the parking lot is more dangerous to them then leaving them to tend for themselves for 10 minutes. “The punishment fitting the crime” here would have been a SLIGHT scolding by the cops, and NOTHING more… Certainly NOT having CPS pedophiles undressing the kids!

          2. Since they would have been fine if everybody had just minded their own business, nothing was “required”. Had someone chosen to keep an eye on them for a few minutes until the mother returned, that would have been nice of them, but not “required”. Absolutely nothing happened to justify the invasion of the home and the molestation of the children.

          3. Do you contend that the government should be required to molest children until a real molester arrives?

          4. I realize an 85-IQ, slack-jawed hicklib like you had to be watched by an adult at all hours so you wouldn’t wander into traffic thinking they were Hot Wheels cars, but a gaggle of six kids have generally grown up with the oldest taking on responsibilities to manage the rest of the siblings while the parent runs in to the store for 10 minutes to grab food.

            1. There was one important detail left out of the summary. You have to read her WP editorial to learn that the oldest of the 6 kids was 5. Four of the six were 2 or younger.

              So there would have been four kids in carseats that they couldn’t escape.

              The way the summary is written, I had the impression that the four year old was the little one, with just a single infant behind. He was in fact the second oldest.

              It doesn’t change the overkill response, but it does make the cops stopping to check it out sound a little more reasonable.

          5. Yes! Free government babysitting!

          6. We contend that you’re a fucking retarded rubs.

            1. Rube. And a useless douche who should throw himself into traffic.

      2. If they can’t predict or establish that as fact then they cannot punish the parent or guardian. Punitive measures require prescriptive allowances before application of those measures. Otherwise it’s just feeling which isn’t punishable YET.

  5. can’t wait for the “here’s why we needed to take the little kids’ clothes off” …

      1. Probable cause?

    1. Checking for vaccination scars

      1. both ^^^ sensible answers gracias. especially if i’m the agency.

    2. “I can’t believe I get paid to do this!”

  6. That does it. If I ever start a family, I’ll going to make sure it has the full protection of the mafia. The nice thing about having a Sicilian heritage.

  7. The cops and everyone at CPS involved with this need to be fired. Out of a cannon. Aimed at a brick wall.

  8. So, if the Homeschool Legal Defense Association is defending them, does that mean they’re homeschoolers themselves?

    That might explain why they didn’t just drop in on the childrens’ schools and do the strip searches there.

  9. If you have 6 kids in the car maybe you should think twice about needing a muffin right then.

    1. maybe if you have 6 kids in the car the only thing keeping you alive is the promise of a muffin right then

    2. Maybe. Now explain to us how that justifies molesting the children.

      1. Has anyone admitted that the children were strip-searched or ‘molested?’ Why would anyone credit uncorroborated, self-serving assertions from the plaintiffs in this dispute?

        1. So NOW you believe in innocent until proven guilty.

          1. “Innocent until proven guilty” is only for government agents in KirkLand.

        2. Have you admitted that you’re a useless turd who should kill himself?

    3. She was getting muffins for the kids

    4. Yep. She should not have left the kids. After all, someone might come around and molest them.

      Which is exactly what happened.

    5. Maybe she thought thrice and still decided to get that muffin.

      How about this. If the kids seem to be in danger, do something about it. If not, mind your own goddamn business.

  10. But why did a muffin stop end up with a strip search at all?

    If you give a mom a muffin
    She’ll want some jam to go with it…

    1. This was a great reference….. sadly many here are either too old or too young to get it.

  11. So CPS is now a preferred career path for pedophiles?

    1. What do you mean, “now”?

    2. More likely that it’s a career path for child abuse victims with unresolved issues.

    3. CPS= Creepy Pedophile Society.

      1. Perhaps PB is a CPS caseworker. Maybe Pedo Jeffy too.

  12. About two weeks later, Holly was found not guilty of child neglect.

    What? She let perverts into her home!

    1. Those perverts had the correct occupational licenses and government approval, so it’s totes ok.

    2. Proper public servants would have caught this catch-22 for immediate revocation of parental rights. I think you finally found something worth firing a civil employee over. Or just punish said employee through their children. Say, strip searching their children.

  13. In a world where reality isn’t fucked, the CPA should be arrested for pedophilia and forced sexual assault (since they used the threat of force and kidnapping to get into the house and make the mom comply). And the deputy written up on aiding and abetting, at the least.

    1. aiding and abetting, at the least

      Since he presumably was armed, there should be additional specifications for possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.

  14. Simple question. Why is the parent named but the CPS thug and accompanied officer not named? Those names should be front and center. Public officials acting in the name of their office is not doxxing.

    1. Jeanetta Childress and Michael Furnish are the CPS and Deputy officers. Had to read the suit, but please include these names in future articles!

        1. The vast majority of her experience is in low-level clerical work. But she’s totes qualified to decide whether peoples’ children ought to be taken away.

          1. Misspells diploma “diplomia” four times in her LinkedIn resume.

            1. That detail induced profound cognitive consonance.

  15. The demonstrated lack of concern for the welfare of children in this discussion is odd and telling. Libertarians do not disregard the interests of children. Unreasonable malcontents champion the “rights” of parents without consideration of the welfare of children.

    1. Sincerely,
      Child Protective Services

    2. Yeah, because idiots like you and your one size fits all, jail time for those that disagree, and inflexible servitude should derive the only solutions to problems, perceived or real.

      Just because you like a boot on your throat doesn’t mean everyone else likes it or needs it. Keep your erotic asphyxiation to yourself.

    3. Libertarians generally have no problem with the state getting involved when there is actual abuse going on. Children have rights too and their parents don’t own them.
      And you are a fucking idiot. There is plenty of concern for children expressed here. The police and CPS managed to turn what should have been a perfectly ordinary day into a confusing and traumatic event for the kids and their mother.

    4. The was no evidence that the welfare of these children was in jeopardy. Now, go hang yourself.

    5. Shoot yourself in the face. Everyone hates you and would celebrate your demise.

  16. seat-of-the-pants decisions…for muffins


  17. Cops and CPS scum should be shot.

  18. The real crime here is some fool pumping out six kids.

    1. As long as they can feed and house them without being on the dole, I don’t have a problem with that.

  19. Abuse of authority such as this should result in immediate death. I would happily contribute to the defense fund of any parent who decided to kill a police officer who behaved in such a manner in their home.

    Authoritarians don’t learn any other way.

    1. I would be happy to hang the jury if given the chance.

      1. Why? What’d the jury do?

  20. From the report it seems the officers smelled fear or sensed a very weak personality. That emboldened them to threaten and overreach. She should have told them she was recording and then ask for the report they responded to.
    Why would she think she needed permission to call her husband and why did they believe they had authority to deny it? If this kind of deference to authority goes much further people will be falling on their knees and begging for mercy at every LEO contact. WTF?

    1. I think you missed the explicit “we will come back and take your kids away” threat.

      They absolutely can and will do this. And even in the event that every action they are taking is totally unfounded, you may be years away from getting your kids back.

      One of these CPS stories was my first introduction to the injustice outrage that would later give a center to my libertarian streak. It was on 60 minutes back around 1980-ish. Some non-com officer in the US Navy had a neighbor issue a complaint – unbeknownst to him. He’s in the kitchen one day and sees some lady in his back yard pulling his daughter who is desperately holding on to their chain link fence. So he runs outside (probably to dismember this person) and is confronted by a pair of sheriff’s deputies. A big confrontation ensues that ends with him being arrested (later released).

      Long story short – despite there being no foundation for anything, the family court took their kids away for 2 years (“erring on the side of protecting the children”) to a secret location. The only way they were able to get them back was to divorce (on paper) and for him to move out.

      There are loads of stories like this out there – like all bureaucracies, they protect their own. So you want to smack down the CPS agent and get your kids back? You have to go to the family court where that CPS agent has a good working relationship with everyone and has been in that court many dozens of times explaining just how terrible this abusive father is or that drunk single mom is…. and the judge has broad, almost unlimited power of discretion.

      So you really don’t want to poke that bear. They have nearly unlimited power to wreck your life and near as makes no difference absolute immunity from consequences (in the case of the judges, absolute immunity is exactly what they have granted themselves).

      1. Seems like a good way to explain what the Second Amendment is really about…

  21. […] your hand on your heart and pledge allegiance to power. You love government so much you can’t stand […]

  22. When the deputy and CPS case worker threatened her with having her kids taken away if she exercised her constitutional rights, they both committed a federal felony (Title 18, Section 241, US Code).

    The US Supreme Court, all the way back in 1948, established that a citizen’s arrest for a violation of federal law is lawful if it would be lawful in the same circumstances for a violation of state law (United States v. Di Re).

    Kentucky Revised Statute 431.005 allows any citizen to arrest anyone they have probable cause to believe has committed a felony — note that this is the same statute that allows a police officer to make an arrest without a warrant but with probable cause in the state of Kentucky, so if it’s invalid then cops wouldn’t be able to make an arrest without a warrant either.

    Whether it would be wise to attempt an arrest of a deputy and case worker for the felonies they committed in front of her is a separate question, but on the basis of law alone she absolutely could have arrested them both on the spot!

    It’s worth noting that by law, actual police in Kentucky have restrictions on what levels of force they can use in response to different types of resisting arrest, but private citizens have no such restrictions placed on them!

    1. All well and good in legal theory.

      Yet we know it does not work that way.

      So it was not so smart to stop for muffins and leave the kids. They have drive through in Kentucky. She wanted a special treat for her children. No harm done. No laws violated. She did not resist arrest and was never charged with a crime.

      Cops really had no reason to call CPS.

      She was told they would show up. In retrospect should have gotten legal advice in advance but being innocent did not.

      They did show up and went way overboard, traumatizing the family. Now she has lawyers. They have filed suit.

      That is where it is.

  23. American parents should start shooting CPS workers on the doorstep.

  24. Jesus H Christ on a pogo stick.

    But as horrendously wrong as these government officials are, who should we blame? As more sheeple demand more authoritative government, should we be surprised? Sure, fantasize about taking up arms against out-of-control cops and courts, but save some rage for the statist subjects who demanded them.

  25. What’s the best name for CPS? Centralized Pedo Services?

  26. Cops do not care about knowing the laws, people’s rights, or taxpayers dollars spent defending lawsuits.

    1. Not at all. That’s why abuses like this will continue unabated until cops, prosecutors, and other government agents are directly punished for them, instead of the taxpayers paying off the victims.

  27. Holy curry!

  28. This is the foreseeable result when you have half a country constantly worshiping police as ‘heroes’ rather than what they are..

    Dudes who couldn’t get into college and whose only other career path would have been Wal Mart or a gas station

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