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Settlement reached in strip-search case

December 11, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - West Virginia State Police have agreed to pay $40,000 to two former Kentucky Fried Chicken employees who alleged that state troopers strip-searched them in 1996, according to their attorney.

Charity Greenfield, 21, and Patrick Whitmore, 18, sued the state police and Kentucky Fried Chicken in June 1996 after troopers were called to the restaurant to search for $160 that was missing.

A supervisor at the Edwin Miller Boulevard restaurant called state police after he discovered $160 was missing, according to Berkeley County Circuit Court records.

The money was found later the same night, misplaced under some papers, but not until after six employees were stripped and searched, the suit said.

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Two of the employees, Greenfield and Whitmore, filed suit claiming their the searches were illegal and violated their constitutional rights.

At the time, Greenfield was a student at Shepherd College and Whitmore was a 16-year-old student at Hedgesville High School.

Berkeley County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Steptoe ruled that the troopers conducted an unconstitutional search, Martinsburg attorney Harry P. Waddell said.

"The judge's ruling that these strip searches clearly violated rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution sent an important message to the state police that conduct of this sort will not be tolerated," Waddell said in a statement.

Greenfield and Whitmore previously had settled their claims with KFC for an undisclosed amount, according to Waddell.

State police officials could not be reached for comment.

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