Citadel police investigation of alleged strip search of female cadet finds no criminal wrongdoing
The aroma of marijuana and a peek at a bag of pot prompted a March visit to a Citadel barracks room that ended with a former female cadet alleging she was strip-searched, according to documents released Wednesday.
Ex-cadet Jordyn Jackson complained to campus police after the March 8 incident, saying she felt humiliated and violated by a search ordered by a school commander.
But a subsequent police investigation found no signs that a crime had been committed against Jackson, a 19-year-old Ohioan who withdrew from the military college after reporting the incident, authorities said.
The military college this week released a thick pile of reports and witness statements from their investigation of Jackson's complaint in response to a request from The Post and Courier.
Jackson, who was a freshman “knob,” told campus police she was strip-searched in her dorm room at the direction of Col. Thomas Harris, an officer in the commandant's office. The search was prompted by a smell of some sort, but Harris never specified what the smell was, she has said.
Police documents, however, state that Harris was alerted after one of Jackson's roommates told a human affairs officer she had smelled marijuana in the room and found what appeared to be a bag of pot in Jackson's locker on March 8.
The roommate, Hanna Holt, told police that Jackson had the bag on her person during the search but Harris and other cadets didn't find it. That's because Jackson was allowed to disrobe out of the males' eyesight, giving her opportunity to secret the pot, according to Holt's statement to police.
Holt told police she later confronted Jackson and Jackson admitted to having the pot but claimed she didn't want to get caught with it, according to a police report.
Jackson did not return a message from The Post and Courier left on her cell phone Tuesday and her phone was not accepting calls on Wednesday.
Her attorney, Donald McCune, said Holt's version of the incident “was not my understanding of the events of that day.” McCune said he was never given a chance to either review or dispute the findings by campus police.
Jackson previously told The Post and Courier she did not possess or use marijuana in the barracks.
In March, Jackson told police that Harris and male cadets were in the room for some portions of the search, but left when she stripped off her pants and pulled down her underwear, the report stated. A female cadet was called in to observe that portion of the search. Jackson was not touched during the incident, the report stated.
Holt disputed portions of Jackson's account, telling police Jackson never removed her underwear during the search and that no males were present when Jackson disrobed beyond her jacket, police reports state. Another roommate, Kelsey Schlegel, backed Holt's version of events.
Two other cadets who were present also denied seeing Harris or anyone else treat Jackson inappropriately, a police report states.
Schlegel told police she smelled “the distinct odor of marijuana” when she returned to their room that day. She also recalled that Holt confronted Jackson after the search was completed, and that Jackson “admitted to having marijuana in the room, but said she was holding it for another unknown cadet,” a report states.
Harris and two other cadets involved in the search declined to give statements to police on the recommendation of their attorneys, police said.
“Investigation into this matter has failed to produce any additional information, witnesses, leads or evidence of a criminal nature,” Officer Rodger Hilliard wrote in an April 1 report. “This case is administratively closed at this time and considered unfounded for criminal wrongdoing.”
The State Law Enforcement Division also reviewed the case and found no basis for charges, school officials said.
In March, Jackson told The Post and Courier that the incident followed an ongoing pattern of racial harassment she was subjected to at the school. Among other things, upperclassmen addressed her with racial epithets, and notes stating “KKK” and worse were hung on her door, she said.
McCune said Jackson's only motive in coming forward and filing the complaint with police was to spare future cadets from being treated like she had been. She has since moved on with her life and is not contemplating legal action against the school, he said.
“I think she is more than happy to put all of this behind her,” he said. “She never saw this as anything other than an opportunity to bring these practices to people's attention.”
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.