Kelly Helleson, a Texas state trooper who illegally probed the private parts of two women during a roadside search in 2012, has pleaded guilty to a charge of “official oppression” and will pay a $2,000 fine and serve two years of probation. She also received a one-year prison sentence, which was then suspended.
Helleson, who was fired after a dashboard video of the searches became public, entered the guilty plea in order to avoid two counts of sexual assaulting the women, Angel Dobbs and her niece Ashley Dobbs. Kelly Helleson continued to deny that she committed sexual assault.
“At no time did I ever stick my finger inside someone’s body,” she said in court, contradicting what the district attorney said was an earlier confession.
The two women said that not only did Helleson insert her fingers into their vaginal and anal openings, she did so without changing gloves at any time during the body cavity searches.
“I don’t feel like she had any regard for us that evening,” said Angel Dobbs in courtroom testimony. “I believe the glove was for her own safety, not ours.”
Helleson claimed that she was merely following orders from a superior officer.
The two women were pulled over because an officer said that he saw them throwing a cigarette butt out of their car window. Trooper David Farrell then said that he detected the scent of marijuana in the Dobbs vehicle, but searches turned up no illegal substances in the vehicle. Farrell was accused of stealing a bottle of prescription drugs from the car, but was never indicted.
The two women sued the department claiming their health and safety was violated by the searches, particularly because Helleson did not bother to change gloves. They settled out of court for $185,000.
The case was not the only accusation of illegal body cavity searches brought against a Texas state trooper. Last year another female officer, Jennie Bui, was fired over the same charges — illegally probing the body cavities of two women during a traffic stop. But Bui was not indicted. Her superior, Trooper Nathaniel Turner, was fired over allegations that he ordered the female trooper to carry out body cavity searches on the two women.
The Texas DPS has since revised its policy, prohibiting body cavity probes without a warrant.
Kelly Helleson was a 10-year veteran of the Texas state troopers. According to her attorney Bob Baskett, she has no desire to rejoin the force “after this crap.” Helleson herself refused to offer a comment following her guilty plea.