Free-Range Kids

No Qualified Immunity for Kentucky Cops Who Strip-Searched a 4-Year-Old and Threatened Mom

Judge: "America's founding generation... knew their fair share of unwelcome constables."

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Good news, parents: If you let your kids wait in the car for less than 10 minutes on a cool day—doors locked and fan on—a caseworker and sheriff are actually not allowed to come to your home, threaten to take your children away, and strip search the kids.

These very basic rights were just vindicated the hard way: by a Kentucky mom in federal court. Holly Curry sued the cop and the caseworker, insisting that the day she was investigated for child abuse, the two authorities so overstepped their bounds that they should not be afforded qualified immunity. In other words, their behavior was so egregious, they had to take responsibility for it. The judge agreed.

You may recall the case. Back in March of 2017, Curry was driving her kids to karate when she stopped to get them some muffins. She was in the café for just a few minutes. When she came out, two cops rebuked her for leaving the kids.

In Kentucky, it's a crime to leave children under the age of eight in a car under circumstances that "manifest an extreme indifference" to human life and create a grave risk of death. But the cops didn't say she'd done that. The kids all looked fine, and they the officers left without charging Curry with a crime. Nevertheless, they felt obligated to call the state's child protection hotline, thus opening a neglect investigation which automatically required a visit to the Curry home to check on the kids.

When the caseworker arrived at the home, Holly refused to let her in without a warrant. The worker returned with a sheriff's deputy, but still no warrant. When Holly insisted that they still couldn't enter, they threatened to "come back and put your kids into foster care." Holly begged for time to call her husband. They refused. Finally, crying and terrified, Holly let them in.

Labeling that decision "voluntary consent," the authorities entered the home. Unsurprisingly, the house and kids all looked fine. Even so, the caseworker insisted on strip searching each kid, removing their underwear and examining their genitals for signs of abuse.

A few months later, the caseworker closed the investigation as "unsubstantiated," saying that what Holly had done was a "one-time 'oopsy-daisy.'" But she telephoned Curry later and said, "If we ever get a call against your family again, bad things will happen to you, and we'll take your children."

At that point, Curry had had enough. She turned around and filed suit against the caseworker and cop, claiming violation of her constitutional rights.

They, in turn, pressed hard for immunity. But in in a powerful ruling on August 19 in Curry v. Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services, Judge Justin Walker said that it was clear the government used an improper threat to enter the home, lacked any evidence that might have justified a strip search, and violated the children's rights to bodily integrity. According to Walker:

Act One: An "attentive and loving" mother gets muffins for her children. Act Two: There's a knock on her door and a threat by the government to take away her children. Act Three: Her children are strip searched without cause. America's founding generation may never have imagined a Cabinet for Health and Family Services. But they knew their fair share of unwelcome constables. And they added a Fourth Amendment to our Constitution to protect against this three-act tragedy.

To enter a home without consent and examine stripped kids requires a warrant, genuine suspicion of abuse, or an actual emergency. Who knew? Apparently not the authorities in Kentucky, who have been defending the warrantless entry and strip ever since the Curry's filed their lawsuit in 2018.

Assuming the decision stands, "it's very good news for child welfare and police reformers," says Diane Redleaf, co-chair of United Family Advocates and Let Grow's legal consultant.

"It's also welcome news for all the parents who want to give their kids some unsupervised time—to walk to school, to come home with a latchkey, to wait briefly in the car—but fear what could happen to them if an onlooker decided to call 911," says Redleaf.

The Currys are home schoolers who enlisted James R. Mason, executive director of the Home School Legal Defense Association, to file the federal suit on their family's behalf. Mason hopes that now the authorities will think twice before barging into homes and strip searching kids without evidence of wrongdoing by the parent. The investigator in the case testified that they "automatically strip search every child when they go into a home," Mason notes. "No more."

NEXT: What About…Defunding the Police?

Free-Range Kids

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93 responses to “No Qualified Immunity for Kentucky Cops Who Strip-Searched a 4-Year-Old and Threatened Mom

  1. People who want a job that requires strip searching every child should not be allowed to encounter children.

    1. There are a whole lot of jobs like that, including politician, police in general, vice cop more specifically, but strip searching kids seems like a slam dunk for top of the list.

      1. In fact (spirit of the stair), it would seem so obvious that I’d think charged for strip searching kids could claim the employment ad and application were entrapment.

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    4. No, they should not be allowed to encounter ANYONE!!!!

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  2. No QI doesn’t mean it’s over.

    When is the tarring and feathering?

    1. Exactly. Power-mad officials might understand they did something wrong, and be discouraged from doing it again, after they suffer a little physical or financial pain. But only might. Some need to be put down. Second Amendment, or something.

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    2. Fuck that – straight to lynching. Drag their carcasses through town with an American flag waving.

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  3. Judge Justin Walker said that it was clear the government used an improper threat to enter the home, lacked any evidence that might have justified a strip search, and violated the children’s rights to bodily integrity.

    You should have seen how that kid was dressed, your honor. She wanted to be strip searched!

    /Kentucky caseworker

    1. Great comment Unicorn!! I’d bet that these cops were perverts who like feeling up little kids and just joined the force to be able to do so without being arrested

  4. “If we ever get a call against your family again, bad things will happen to you, and we’ll take your children.”

    Government is the mob violence we all do together.

    1. A personal threat like this, under the color of authority, should come with a lifetime ban from employment in the public sector if proven.

      1. I disagree. A lifetime job breaking rocks upstate for the public sector would be justified.

        1. Fuck breaking rocks: Hang these shitty cops. These poor kids will be affected for life from what these pervert cops did.

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    2. “We” paleface? I voted LP the last 10 elections, 8 of those straight-ticket. Wait’ll those officious child molesters’ bosses have to choose between a hand in the till and keeping them on payroll. Loyalty among looters is not pretty…

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  7. The worker returned with a sheriff’s deputy, but still no warrant. When Holly insisted that they still couldn’t enter, they threatened to “come back and put your kids into foster care.”

    That should have been the constitutional violation right there. Both the cop and the case worker should know that is an outright lie from their 8th grade US History class.

    1. Well, aren’t you the uppity elitist, declaring that the jobs of cop and case worker require an 8th grade diploma.

      1. Would it be more or less elitist to state that I actually understood this from the unit on the Bill of Rights around the 4th or 5th grade?

        From the very first link in a search for ‘bill of rights for kids’:
        https://www.coolkidfacts.com/bill-of-rights/

        The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures. There must be a good reason for a search, and a warrant signed by a judge is required.

        The judge would have had to say out loud that the naked language of the 4A is not caselaw to grant QI here.

        1. I think Skeptic was being more than a little bit facetious, so sounds like you are both on the same side of the issue.

          1. That is the problem with responding to sarcasm with sarcasm, I suppose. At some point it becomes difficult to remember if anyone is being serious.

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      2. EARTH SKEPTIC: Yep Chuck is wrong. Being a cop only requires that one is stupid, reckless, brutal and crooked.

    2. The City of New London can explain why expecting cops to have an 8th Grade education is unreasonable.

    3. We allow cops to lie. And caseworkers evidently.

      1. I really don’t understand when bearing false witness became acceptable to judges. It seems like common law for that goes back a ways. It certainly goes against the idea that you are innocent until proven guilty, because lying to an innocent person like in this case about your right to inspect their children’s genitals seems downright criminal.

  8. “Assuming the decision stands…”

    That’s a whopper of an assumption right there.

  9. Hmmm…since they won’t be given immunity, if it is settled in court that what the officer and caseworker did to the child wasn’t legal in their official roles, can they be charged with indecency to a child, and if convicted, have to become registered sex offenders? I would think that would put a kink in their futures in their current jobs. Plus, they’re gonna have to move under the overpass on the outskirts of town, I guess?

    1. “can they be charged with indecency to a child, and if convicted, have to become registered sex offenders? ”

      Sure, if the local DA is willing to charge and prosecute a cop and a child welfare social worker. Good luck with that.

      1. Every woodchipper comes standard with a DA feature nowadays.

  10. Well, did the author call the cop and social worker departments and ask if they are appealing to US Federal Appeals court and seeking to restore their qualified immunity? I’ll bet they do, and I’ll bet they win. Their only hope is in the SCOTUS IMHO. Or the state could remove the immunity the federal SCOTUS gave them.

    No one is above the law, except for those with qualified immunity, and those conspiring with corrupt officials in or running the FBI and DoJ.

    1. The sockpuppet’s observations match mine. I’d guess behind the fake name is a cynic with a decade or two of court work to look back on. But that’s where Nixon-subsidy voters who say “thank you sir, may I have another” to entrenched Kleptocracy parties will get you every time.

  11. Roberts will flip it when it gets to the top. Caseworker should have some skin peeled off or something.

    1. Yeah, “when”.

      1. i assume it will fasttrack. cops need absolution.

  12. The investigator in the case testified that they “automatically strip search every child when they go into a home,”

    Sounds like Palin’s Buttplug’s dream job. I suddenly want something very bad to happen to every single Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services investigator. Woodchippers are too good for these assholes. Scaphism might be appropriate but even that would probably be too soon without enough suffering.

  13. Unless I missed it, it would have been nice to have had a link to the actual opinoin.

  14. Assuming the decision stands…

    It won’t. In order for QI to be quashed, it has to be something so egregiously shocking to the conscience that it is beyond the pale, and unfortunately nothing they do can any longer shocks anybody. I mean, roadside cavity searches? Forced enemas? Boiling people alive in hot showers? What is so shocking about strip-searching little children?

    1. Has any court previously ruled that a family with the same exact number and age children were illegally ogled by state agents?

      1. On that day, in that part of the country, localized entirely within that plaintiff’s kitchen?

        1. Solid Simpsons reference

  15. Seems these kids weren’t at all traumatized by their parents behavior. Good thing this case worker took it upon himself to change that with a not at all fucked up and uncalled for genital inspection…

    1. “Kids that age are too young to remember any abuse by me, but kids fresh out the womb will be traumatized for life by any misstep their parents make.”

      -CPS worker’s MSW thesis

  16. The officers involved in this case is not the only ones that should be held responsible. The supervisors over each of these officers should also be held responsible. The officers would not do what they did if the supervisors were doing their job which is to supervise, train and direct the officers under them.
    This same thing should be in the police departments where the Black Lives Matters are demonstrating. An officer uses SOP to direct their activity and if they don’t then the supervisor should correct the officer and if that does not work fire the office. So the methods that these officers are using has been approved by the supervisors either actively or passively. In either case it is the supervisor and higher responsibility to make any correction and training needed. Now this does not take the officer off the hook but puts the higher management on the hook along with the officers.

  17. “”but still no warrant. When Holly insisted that they still couldn’t enter, they threatened to “come back and put your kids into foster care.”””
    People really need to get past their public fool system indoctrination, learn the law that’s been deliberately removed from the curriculum and learn how to push back against these municipal terrorists, by what ever degree of force is needed.
    Start by having *every* entry to your property well posted with “No Trespassing” signs. Also have discussions with your neighbors to have a network of support when the terrorists show up.
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  19. I’m sure the appeals court will find that since nobody had ever threatened custody loss to strip search children when there was a new moon on the 2nd Tuesday of the month before, there’s no possible way they could know it was wrong and therefore get QI.

  20. In my view, this could be fixed with a simple rule forbidding the courts to treat government differently than they treat any other litigant. Not holding my breath though.

    1. Something like “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States”?

      1. the original 13th amendment.

    2. There is a rule for that, it’s called the constitution and Due Process of Law. Problem is, people have no understanding of law today and let these B.A.R. Association scum push everything into their fictional “statutory” jurisdiction where you don’t have any rights except those the lords and masters allow you. Nothing but Kangaroo, denial of due process, administrative offices, not courts.
      Constitutional law requires a common law jurisdiction. But “our” government is infested with the B.A.R. Association terrorists and people are ignorant beyond comprehension to their rights.

  21. This is just gross on every level. The idea that an incident that was so minor, and warranted nothing more then a couple of asshole cops berating, and lecturing a mom(which itself was totally unwarranted) and then leaving the scene, lead to this response is pure insanity. Luckily, a sane judge presided over the case and hopefully has paved the way for all involved to be punished and hopefully at the least be removed from there jobs.

  22. I’m glad the plaintiff won, but sadly (a) this was only at the trial court level and (b) the appeal is going to go to the Sixth Circuit, which, IIRC, is arguably the most defendant-friendly federal appellate court on QI issues. Thus, I’ll be absolute amazed if this ruling isn’t overturned on appeal, probably with an opinion that expressly praises suspicionless strip searches of pre-school aged children as being good and necessary for the preservation of the republic.

  23. By the way, if any of you are homeschooling your kids and are not a member of HSLDA, JOIN NOW. You want to have a lawyer ready to defend you the moment one of these CPS pedos knock on your door, and HSLDA does exactly that.

    They’re a Xtian group, but that doesn’t get in the way of the great work they’re doing on cases like this one.

    1. Please don’t! Stay far, far away from the fundie bigots. They work for the oversight of homeschooling by the state and prefer that there only be religious reasons to homeschool. They are not fighting for educational freedom but for homeschoolers $$$$ as they work to require their oversight to your home.

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  25. “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” ― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn , The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

    1. This literally happened when men with guns were sent after Beelzebubba’s Beer and the Demon Rum. So many federal agents wore toe tags that statistics showing the hockey-stick increase were stricken from publication after 1930. Similar events had occurred in 1920-23, when freedom-loving servicemen returned from German occupation with their weapons. Prohibition was nullified and the economy recovered somewhat until after March of 1929. Republican prohibitionists cause economic collapse so often you wonder if it’s causality. Libertariantranslator

  26. What’s remarkable is that they lied about the threat to put the kids in the foster care, still without a warrant – and in fact when the lie worked, it became “consensual entry”. I vaguely recall threat of illegal violence mentioned somewhere not far from the definition of terrorism.

    1. Letting officious looters into your home is NOT smart. Disguised as Mormon faith-healers or Jehova’s Witlesses, snoops can poke through ashtrays and run to send men with guns to strip your kids and shoot the family dog. This instance of naked intimidation (no pun) is shocking cause for a posse comitatus if it reveals collusion higher up the chain of aggression so meticulously instituted by Democrats and Republicans.

  27. This country is turning into a dystopian shithole and has been for quite some time, and all anyone wants to talk about is the village idiot in the WH.

    One side actually thinks that moron is going to make it better, and the other side thinks all we have to do is get rid of him and everything will be fine.

    Fuck both sides.

    1. I’m voting LP again, despite the village idiot looter infiltrators tacked onto the ticket.

  28. Serious question:

    What are the chances that this decision holds up under appeal?

    Is there clear case law that a CPS case worker cannot exercise her own judgement as to when a physical examination for signs of abuse is necessary?

    I would suspect that this is a routine power that they wield.

    Although I agree that the entire incident is a gross abuse of this family’s rights, I’m really surprised that this fits the criteria to escape qualified immunity. I wonder what the case law is that makes this an “established violation of rights” by the definition that the feds use.

    1. A policy that actually applied judgement might be constitutionally defensible. From the article:
      “The investigator in the case testified that they ‘automatically strip search every child when they go into a home’.”

      That policy is clearly not defensible. But will it survive appeal on the (un)qualified immunity claim? Who knows. That seems to be a circuit-by-circuit crap shoot these days.

  29. Thanks for Lenore’s article. I’m for including free-range kinds in “the people” mentioned in the Second Amendment–with marksmanship training in school. In Aurora Illinois March 25 1929 a raiding Sheriff beat a homeowner and murdered a housewife who was calling her lawyer. Mrs. de King’s 12-year-old orphaned son shot the dry killer in the leg. A pint of liquor was alleged to exist but never found. Herbert Hoover bragged that no federal agents were involved in that particular murder under concurrent enforcement.

  30. Amazing that a judge decided that cops who make a ton of money with gold plated benefits should have higher expectations than a 16 year old working at McDonald’s

    1. The judge probably had a grandkid that was 4. Any other judge would have taken the kids from the mom for merely filing the case.

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  33. This story is far from over. If KY appeals, that should be front page news, headline: “KY defends sexual abuse of children”. Oh, wait. I forgot, the MSM no longer watch out for the public. They forfeited their “watchdog” status decades ago for job security, career advancement.
    Will the DA prosecute the child abusers, state thugs? Hell no! State thugs stick together.

  34. In Florida we also have a law against leaving the kids in the car.
    Even on a cool day with the motor running and the A/C on. Even for one minute.
    That is a good law, there is no wiggle room
    No unattended children in the car. Easy to understand and enforce.
    Routine sexual examination of underage children?
    Without any suspicion or allegation of sex abuse?
    That seems way over the line

  35. The name of the social worker is “Jeanetta Childress” Curry v. Ky. Cabinet for Health & Family Servs., CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:17-CV-00730-GNS, (W.D. Ky. Mar. 14, 2018)

  36. That case worker, so called and the accompanying officer should both be sued, then hung out to dry.

  37. “The Currys are home schoolers”

    And there you have the reason for state persecution. If the kids had been enrolled in their government mandated indoctrination campus, state workers wouldn’t care.

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  41. The two gestapo agents need to be arrested for violating civil rights under the color of authority.

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