Former Trooper Pleads Guilty, Gets Probation in Roadside Cavity Search

Charge of sexual assault dropped in plea deal

A former Texas Department of Public Safety state trooper was sentenced to two years probation Friday after pleading guilty to two counts of official oppression in connection with an illegal roadside cavity search that was recorded on dashcam video.

Angel and Ashley Dobbs were stopped by Trooper David Farrell on July 13, 2012, after he said he saw the women throw cigarettes out of their vehicle. Farrell, who said he smelled marijuana in the car, called for a female trooper to search the women.

Trooper Kelly Helleson arrived at the scene and conducted the search, which was recorded by Farrell's dashboard camera.

Nothing illegal was found in the search.

Dobbs, who testified in the sentencing Friday, recalled thinking after the cavity search, "Oh my God, did she just do that?"

Both Angel and Ashley Dobbs sued the DPS, alleging that Helleson performed searches on both women, touching both their anuses and vaginas, without changing the latex gloves between searches.  The DPS settled the lawsuit for $185,000 last summer.

Helleson was later fired and indicted on two charges of official oppression and sexual assault. Farrell was ultimately indicted on a theft charge after the women said a bottle of prescribed hydrocodone was missing from Dobbs' car and purse after the search.  An investigation by the DPS later cleared Farrell of that charge.

After entering her plea Friday, Helleson apologized during the sentencing and said she was searching for illegal substances and that she never intended to touch the women in inappropriate places. She also added that the women smelled of pot.

Attorney's for Helleson had asked the judge to consider deferred adjudication instead of a conviction of the Class A misdemeanor, a move that would keep the conviction off Helleson's record and would allow her to continue working as an officer. Prosecutors said Friday that the community needs law enforcement it can depend on and demanded straight probation for Helleson with a conviction. 

Judge Dominque Collins sided with prosecutors and sentenced Helleson to one year in prison (deferred) and two years of probation, ending Helleson's career as a law enforcement officer.  She will also have to pay a $1,000 fine for each charge.

If Helleson violates the terms of her probation, she'll be sent to jail.

“No woman should have their body unnecessarily violated in this type of way.  This was a gross invasion of the victim’s privacy and violation of the public’s trust,” said Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins after the conviction.

Since the 2012 incident, the DPS has implemented a new policy that makes cavity searches without a warrant illegal.

NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff also contributed to this story.

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