NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Dash-cam video showing state trooper Kelly Helleson conducting an illegal cavity search of two women went viral and made national headlines.
*WARNING – GRAPHIC DASH CAM VIDEO*
On Friday, nearly two years later, Helleson pleaded guilty to two counts of official oppression, a class A misdemeanor.
As part of the plea bargain, Dallas County prosecutors dropped the sex assault charges filed against her.
In court, Helleson read a statement on the witness stand, “I am sorry for any pain my actions have caused. I never in my life purposely hurt anyone.”
One of the victims, Angel Dobbs also testified. “It’s affected my life in every way.”
Dobbs recalled what Helleson did to her and her niece in July, 2012 on the side of State Highway 161 while searching for drugs. “I have a hand down my pants, I’m spun around, hands down the front of my pants and I think we all know what happened without going into graphic detail.”
Helleson didn’t find any drugs.
Dobbs testified when she first complained to DPS, “They threatened, they said they’d turn around and press charges against me for lying.”
So she filed a lawsuit and went public.
Helleson, a retired U.S. Marine worked as a state trooper for ten years until DPS fired her last year,
The state settled the women’s lawsuit for $185,000 dollars.
Helleson told the judge, “The searches I have been trained to do as I have done ten years prior without complaint. However, I have acted injudiciously, and I do regret that.”
But a DPS spokesman says the search Helleson conducted violated the U-S and Texas Constitutions.
Dobbs testified, “I know I’m not the only victim. I know my niece is not the only victim.I know that there’s other dashcams of her victimizing other people. To me, that’s not a cop, that’s a predator.”
Judge Dominique Collins gave Helleson a year one sentence in the county jail, then suspended that, and gave her two years probation.
As part of her plea deal, Helleson surrendered her peace officer’s license.
A similar cavity search by a state trooper — also captured on dashcam video in May, 2012 — happened in Brazoria County.
A DPS spokesman says the state fired one trooper and disciplined another trooper in that case.
After Friday’s hearing, one of the District Attorney’s top prosecutors, Russell Wilson, confirmed they investigated similar videos of Helleson’s past searches. “We do believe there have been other invasive body searches conducted. None of them have we found prosecutable at this point.”
As a result of this case, DPS says it has re-emphasized its policy in writing – prohibiting cavity searches without a warrant.
Dobbs says, “I’m happy they made that change. It is one good thing that came of all this.”
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