DA doesn’t recommend charges in alleged Binghamton strip search case

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — In a letter to the Binghamton City School District dated Wednesday, May 8, Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell said he does not think charges should be filed against school personnel in connection to an alleged strip search incident on January 15.

On January 30, Governor Andrew Cuomo called on New York State Police and the New York State Education Department to investigate allegations that 12-year-old girls were strip searched for drugs after being perceived as “hyper and giddy” at East Middle School.

District officials disputed the allegations and said staff members “did not conduct a strip search.”

Here’s the full letter written by District Attorney Steve Cornwell:

Dr. Tonia Thompson, Superintendent
Binghamton City School District
164 Hawley Street
Binghamton, NY 13901

Brian Whalen, President
Binghamton City School District
Board of Education
245 Oak Street
Binghamton, NY 13905

Re: East Middle School January Incident

Dear Dr. Thompson and Mr. Whalen,

As you know, the Governor, in January, called on the New York State Police to investigate allegations of a January 15, 2019 strip search at East Middle School. Prior to this, the Binghamton Police Department also conducted a preliminary investigation.

Neither the Binghamton Police Department or New York State Police have recommended any criminal charges be filed in this matter. I have reviewed their investigation, and agree, there is no basis for any criminal charges to be filed against any employee of the Binghamton City School District.

Generally, when an investigation is conducted, and no criminal charges are filed, the case becomes sealed, and no public comment can be made by law enforcement or prosecutors. However, given the widespread media coverage of this case, we feel it appropriate to notify the district, and will make this letter available to the public.

This investigation was solely into criminal charges, under New York State law, and not into school policy or Constitutional rights, as law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney’s Office have authority only in matters of criminal law.

Sincerely,

Stephen K. Cornwel, Jr.
Broome County District Attorney

The Binghamton City School District released the following statement Thursday in response to the letter:

“The Binghamton City School District appreciates the time and effort the Broome County District Attorney’s Office and members of law enforcement dedicated to reviewing the January 15th, 2019 incident at East Middle School. The district is currently awaiting the results of the third-party investigation conducted by Ferrara Fiorenza PC, and will promptly share those findings with the public. We thank our students, families, staff and community for their patience and support.”

Related articles:

Lawsuit claims 4 girls were strip searched in middle school

Civil rights group seeks action after strip search claims

Gov. Cuomo asks NY education department to investigate strip-search allegations at East Middle School

School denies that 12-year-old girls were strip-searched

Nicky Hickling

Nicky Hickling

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