Skip to comments.Student mistakenly held on drug charge settles with Phila.
Posted on 01/04/2007 4:58:32 AM PST by grjr21
A Bryn Mawr College student wrongly jailed for three weeks on drug charges by Philadelphia police has settled her civil-rights case for $180,000.
Janet H. Lee, now a senior, was arrested at Philadelphia International Airport in 2003 after screeners found three condoms filled with white powder in her carry-on and city police said field tests showed that the substances likely contained opium and cocaine.
Lee was held in lieu of $500,000 bond for 21 days, until further drug testing proved that her unlikely story - that the powder was just flour - was true.
As part of an exam ritual in her dorm, Lee had filled the condoms with flour to make a phallic toy that freshmen squeezed to reduce stress. She had found it so funny that she had packed them to take home to California to show friends after exams.
Lee's civil-rights case against the city had been scheduled for trial today in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
"Everyone wants their day in court, so it was difficult" to settle, in part because she will never know why the flour initially tested positive for drugs, she said yesterday.
"It's like everyone was at fault, but no one was responsible," Lee said.
At least, she said, the settlement means she will not have to testify about what it is like to spend three weeks in a city jail for a crime she did not commit, particularly after spending much of the last three years working to heal herself psychologically.
"Part of going to trial would have meant that I have to acknowledge losses and admit that this had damaged me," she said. "I didn't want to have to admit that."
Lynne Sitarski, chief deputy of the city solicitor's civil-rights division, said the city "is not admitting wrongdoing or liability."
The settlement, the city lawyer said, was "in the best interests of the city."
Lee, now 21, was not physically injured while jailed, said her lawyer, Jeffrey Ibrahim.
One of the settlement provisions allows Lee to meet with city police to discuss what happened.
"Leadership is going to sit down and listen with her to see what went on," Ibrahim said.
Lee has heard criticism that carrying white substances onto an airplane was a foolhardy act. But, she said yesterday, she did not know at the time that drug dealers often carry drugs in condoms. "I was naive, really stupid," she said.
Nonetheless, her lawyer said, the police drug test should not have detected drugs.
"Under the circumstances, something went terribly wrong," Ibrahim said. "We're trying to ensure that nothing like that ever happens again."
Asked if others had successfully sued or settled claims involving false-positive drug tests in Philadelphia in the last two or three years, Sitarski said that no one had.
Lee, a comparative literature major, said she planned to use the settlement money to pay for graduate school, though she has not determined what kind of graduate work she will pursue. Law school is an unlikely option, she said.
"... Lee, a comparative literature major, said she planned to use the settlement money to pay for graduate school, though she has not determined what kind of graduate work she will pursue."
And what kind of career will she pursue? Teaching others comparative literature???
Oh well. I won't have to worry about interviewing/hiring her.
The police should have been able to determine what it was in far less time than 3 weeks.
And where were her parents? Why wasn't she out on bail the next day?
Yep, she learned that the Drug Warriors are tyrants who have the power to ingnore the Constitution and jail someone who broke no laws.
$500K bond... maybe her folks didn't have $50K to put down to get her out with a bondsman... Just a guess.
Generally they only needed 10% of the bail.
3 weeks is quite awhile...
She should go on to study for a degree in culinary arts. Maybe Emeril will hire her to massage a flour-filled condom on his show to add a little spice to it.
"Would you like fries with that?"
>>As part of an exam ritual in her dorm, Lee had filled the condoms with flour to make a phallic toy...
Bullfeathers. This was a setup. She wanted to sue the govt and get some attention.
When in college back in the '70's, my exam stress was usually incorporated into cold beer and dancing after hell week.
The drug "warriors" seem to have forgotten to control the southern border for decades.
You misunderstand the 10% thing.
If they PAY (non refundable) a bail bondsman 10% ($50,000 in this case), he will put up the 1/2 million. It gonna cost you $50,000 to get out of jail, and you ain't getting it back.
I think she was innocent. I've heard of those stress toys made from condoms. If it was a setup, then it was a successful one, as the police were apparently caught lying about the results of a drug field test.
Everyone knows that to really reduce stress you should fill 40-50 ziplock baggies with "2-fingers" worth of oregano... /sarc
Actually, drug dealers don't carry drugs in condoms, mules do when transporting drugs across borders, BUT THEY CARRY THE DRUG-FILLED CONDOMS IN THEIR STOMACHS.
The whole point of the condom thing is to be able to conceal the drugs inside of a person. The fact that she had them in plain view in her luggage should have raised doubt about their use for contraband transport in a drug enforcement agent of even minimal intellectual capacity.
Just proves my contention that drug cops are the same class of low-life they are supposedly protecting us from.
Gee: I hereby volunteer to go to Bryn Mawr to allow the girls to squeeze the real thing and release their stress.
Please explain how the HELL flour tests positive for opium and coke! Sure sounds like a setup; there had to be a trace of each sufficient to get a reading.
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