10-Year-Old Strip-Searched At Sampson County School

A mother in Sampson County is upset with administrators at her son's elementary school. Her third grade son was strip-searched when other students accused him of taking a classmate's money.

Clarinda Cox's 10-year-old son, Justin, said he was strip-searched by an assistant principal at Union Elementary School on June 1. Justin said a girl dropped money in the cafeteria and he picked it up and gave it back to her. Later, the girl said someone had stolen her $20. A spokeswoman for Sampson County Schools said several students accused Justin of taking the money.

Cox said Assistant Principal Theresa Holmes confronted her son about it. Justin said Holmes told him to take off his shoes and then said she had to strip search him. He said he had to take everything off except for his undershirt and boxer shorts.

Cox said she came home from work that day to find Justin upset, waiting in the driveway. She said no one from the school ever called her to tell her about the strip-search.

"If I felt he needed to be searched, I would have brought him into the bathroom, you could have had a witness in the bathroom with me. I would have searched my son," Cox said.

Spokeswoman Susan Warren said a male janitor was brought in as a witness. The assistant principal was within her legal authority to do the search, Warren said.

The assistant principal said two teachers along with seven or eight students said Justin was the one who took the money. She said she urged Justin to tell her if he had it and he replied, "Go ahead and search me."

She never found the $20 on Justin. He said she hugged him afterward and told him she was sorry. The assistant principal said the money appeared under the lunch room table after they left.

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