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CAMDEN - A woman who was filmed using a toilet in a police holding cell has sued the Delaware River Port Authority for alleged invasion of privacy.
Lanese Gerachis is seeking unspecified damages for “emotional and mental pain and suffering” after a “humiliating” experience while in the custody of DRPA police, according to the suit.
It contends Gerachis, who had been arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, was recorded “while engaged in the deeply personal and private matters of relieving herself, with her buttocks, pelvis and upper thigh region largely exposed to the camera."
The incident occurred in a cell at a DRPA police facility near the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Camden, where Gerachis was held from Jan. 6, 2016, into the early-morning hours of the next day.
While in the holding area, Gerachis partially disrobed to use an “open toilet without privacy enclosure or barriers,” the lawsuit says.
It says Gerachis, identified only as a Camden County resident, did not realize a video camera was positioned to film “anyone and everyone using the toilet facilities.”
Gerachis learned of the video in the fall of 2016, when the DRPA provided it to her traffic court attorney, the lawsuit adds.
It contends a "minor dot or fuzzed area of the screen … concealed almost nothing."
DRPA spokesman Kyle Anderson said the authority had not yet received the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in federal court, Camden.
"We will comment as appropriate when we’ve had a chance to review it,” he said.
The lawsuit says Gerachis, at the time of the recording, “had not been convicted of anything and presented no risk or danger of harm to herself or others."
“She was merely being detained” for processing, says the suit, filed by Camden attorney Justin Loughry.
"There was and is neither justification nor excuse for the invasion of privacy … inflicted upon (Gerachis) and all other users of that toilet facility,” it contends.
A Philadelphia woman, Gretchen Winterbottom, filed a similar suit against Cherry Hill in March 2010 after she was recorded while using a toilet in a holding area at the township’s police station one year earlier.
That tape also surfaced as Winterbottom's attorney prepared for a court hearing on drunken driving charges.
Under a settlement agreement, Cherry Hill officials posted warning signs about the cameras in English and Spanish and expanded a “black bar” area intended to provide privacy for the person being recorded.
Township workers also marked an area around the toilets that would be covered by the camera's black bar, so detainees could “gauge their movements on and around the toilet," the settlement said.
It also called for Cherry Hilll to pay $7,000 to Winterbottom and $31,000 to her attorney.
Jim Walsh: @jwalsh_cp; 856-486-2646; email@example.com