A former state trooper was sentenced to probation and fined Friday for performing illegal roadside body cavity searches on two women that were described as “humiliating and shamefully embarrassing.”
State District Judge Dominique Collins sentenced Kelly Helleson, 34, at the recommendation of Dallas County prosecutors after Helleson pleaded guilty to two counts of official oppression. She received a year in jail — which was suspended — and instead will serve two years of supervised probation. She must also pay a $2,000 fine. Two counts of sexual assault against Helleson were dropped.
The convictions stem from a July 13, 2012, traffic stop on the side of State Highway 161 near Irving. Angel Dobbs and her niece Ashley Dobbs were pulled over after state trooper David Farrell said he saw the women throw something out the window, according to the complaint.
Farrell called Helleson to perform the searches, which the women said she did using the same latex glove and in full view of passing motorists. The searches were captured on dashboard video camera.
But Russell Wilson, special fields bureau chief with the [Dallas] district attorney’s office, said Helleson confessed the crime to authorities. ...
Following the incident, the Department of Public Safety changed its policy to prohibit troopers from conducting body cavity searches without search warrants.
Helleson, a state trooper for 10 years, was fired after the search and lost her peace officer’s license. Her attorney, Bob Baskett, said Friday that she has no desire to get back into law enforcement “after this crap.” ...
Farrell was indicted but later acquitted on a charge of theft by a public servant for allegedly stealing a bottle of hydrocodone pills during the search of the Dobbses’ car. DPS officials said last year that he would return to “full-duty status.”
Last June, the two victims received a $185,000 settlement from the state in a federal civil rights lawsuit. After Friday’s hearing, Angel Dobbs, 39, said she was disappointed with Helleson’s probation sentence.Considering prosecutors walked in the door seeking felony sexual assault charges, walking out with probation and a $2,000 fine for a misdemeanor is a significant step-down, despite all the self-congratulatory rhetoric from the Dallas DA's office. Perhaps, given that DPS changed its policies after this and similar episodes to eliminate roadside cavity searches, Hellerson's claims that she was following DPS training carried some substance. We won't learn those details from the legal process, though, since the case resulted in a plea deal rather than a jury trial. Lots of records are newly available about the case under the Public Information Act now that the criminal cases are finished. This'd be a good spot for journalism to pick up the ball.