Charges Dismissed Against Woman Who Says She Was Baptized By Deputy

Monday, November 11, 2019

Criminal charges on Monday were dismissed against a woman who claims that a Hamilton County Sheriff's deputy, wearing boxer shorts, baptized her in Soddy Lake after searching her car for drugs.

Shandle Marie Riley is suing county government and deputies Daniel Wilkey and Jacob Goforth.

In documents in Federal Court, attorneys said the deputies are facing possible criminal charges themselves.

The charges in connection with the baptism arrest were removed at the motion of District Attorney Neal Pinkston.

Deputy Wilkey was also sued along with deputy Bobby Brewer by James Myron Mitchell.

The lawsuit seeks $2 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages. It involves a traffic stop in which Mitchell was searched. The suit claims it was a cavity search. Sheriff Jim Hammond maintains that it was not. Members of the Unity Group asked the sheriff to resign over the incident.

The Riley suit says on Feb. 6 between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., she was driving alone in her 2016 white Chrysler 300 when she pulled into a Mapco for gas and cigarettes. She said deputy Wilkey was also at the Mapco.

She said she then went to the residence of a friend to see her minor child. She said Wilkey pulled in behind her and asked her to get out of the vehicle on suspicion she had meth.

The woman claimed that deputy Wilkey then conducted a search by "feeling through her clothes, her breasts, abdomen, buttocks, inner thighs and crotch." She said he asked her to reach under her shirt and pull out her bra and shake it and the shirt.

The suit says only a marijuana "roach" was found in her vehicle.

It says deputy Wilkey then asked her if she was saved and believed in Jesus Christ. It says deputy Wilkey told her that God was talking to him during the search and wanted him to baptize her. He said he "felt the spirit," it was stated.

The complaint says deputy Wilkey told Ms. Randle to go to the friend's residence and get two towels for the baptism. 

He said if she would let him baptize her, he would only issue a criminal citation for marijuana and not take her to jail. He also said he would speak to the judge in her behalf.

She said she got the towels, then followed the deputy to a boat ramp at Soddy Lake. She said deputy Goforth was also present as "a witness."

She said deputy Wilkey stripped nearly naked and gave her the option of removing her clothes. She said she chose to keep them on. 

The suit says the county deputy then took her into the water and completely submerged her in the cold water by holding one hand on her back and the other on her breasts. She said afterward she was shivering uncontrollably and and felt horribly violated.


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