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8-year-old girl told she had to consent to strip search if she wanted to see her father in prison

Posted at 2:04 PM, Dec 06, 2019

An 8-year-old girl was forced to strip naked during a search prior to visiting her father in a Virginia prison, The Virginian-Pilot reports.

According to the newspaper, the girl was told she needed to consent to the search, or she wouldn't be able to visit her father.

The incident reportedly occurred on Nov. 24 at Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Virginia, a small town in the central part of the state.

Diamond Peerman, who is the girlfriend of the young girl's father, was accompanying her during the visit. She told The Virginian-Pilot that she was singled out by a drug-sniffing dog while standing in line. No drugs were discovered on Peerman or in her car.

Initially, Peerman was told that the girl did not need to be searched, but guards later changed their minds.

When the girl was told she needed to be strip-searched, she reportedly asked Peerman what that meant.

"I told her, that means you have to take all of your clothes off or you're not going to be able to see your dad," Peerman told The Virginian-Pilot. "That's when she started crying."

Department of Corrections policy states that any guest or guard can deny a strip-search when asked, but if they do so, they are not allowed to enter the facility.

The policy also states that a strip search cannot be conducted on a minor without the consent of a parent or legal guardian.

Lisa Kinney, the DOC director of communications, said that because Peerman was not the girl's legal guardian, a strip search should not have been conducted. She also added that it's extremely rare for the department to conduct strip searches on minors.

"It is deeply troubling and represents a breach in our protocol. We sincerely apologize to this child and her family and will be taking immediate disciplinary action against the person responsible," Kinney told The Virginian-Pilot.

The girl was able to see her father through glass following the search. She was denied a contact visit.

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.