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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Truth stranger than fiction

This has to be one of the stranger law enforcement stories I've read.  Ohio police wanted to bust a strip club for liquor license abuses -- fair enough. 

And so they (1)  asked their student intern to go undercover as a stripper.  She agreed.  Then, they (2) sent cops to observe her stripping over a three month period, as well as checking the internet to see her strip there as well.  (Talk about a complicated ploy to get the intern naked!)  And (3) they did all of this while having their intern use the valid driver's license and SSN of another Ohio woman, who knew nothing about the scheme, and who was horrified to learn that she's now on record as a stripper. 

I'm not a crim law person, but this whole arrangement strikes me as troubling.  First, I'm dubious about the idea of recruiting the 22-year-old, college student intern as a stripper.  Letting a group of older, almost certainly predominantly male cops find an undercover position for their intern that requires her to strip regularly as they "observe" -- that strikes me as the kind of arrangement that's fraught with potential for abuse. 

Second, the use of the second woman's identity is particularly disturbing.  The second woman, Haley Dawson, knew nothing of the plan and it is unclear from the news accounts how the police obtained her driver's license and SSN. 

Dawson's father told the news reporter that he thinks that what the police did was identity theft, and that characterization looks awfully accurate to me.  However, there is apparently a law-enforcement loophole in Ohio's identity theft statute, which might cover this kind of use. 

The incident -- in particular, the identity-theft portion -- has unified many people who are normally political foes.  The police are being roundly criticized on Free Republic message boards as well as ACLU-friendly blogs.  Hopefully the outrage will be enough to convince law enforcement not to use such dubious tactics. 

Posted by Kaimi Wenger on May 3, 2005 at 03:36 PM in Criminal Law | Permalink


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And why on earth was she charged with perjury and obstruction of justice? There's a prurient story to be written here.

Posted by: Ted | May 4, 2005 12:58:09 AM

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