A former Los Angeles police officer and U.S. Army veteran is suing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) over an alleged sexual assault at the hands of border officers as she crossed back into the U.S. in June of 2020.
Janine Bouey, who was 60 years old at the time of the alleged assault, was crossing into the U.S. after a dentist appointment in Tijuana.
A Black CBP officer approached Bouey, who is also Black, and asked for her passport and where she had been, according to the lawsuit.
His tone was "flirtatious and pushy, and he pressed her to give him her home address," according to the lawsuit. When Bouey refused, the lawsuit claims "the officer pulled her out of line and took her to the main building."
A female officer then “intentionally groped Bouey" by touching her inappropriately over her clothes while searching her, the lawsuit alleges. Bouey was put in a "holding pen with other people," all the while repeating she was a U.S. citizen. She also told them if they ran her information they would see she was a retired LAPD officer. Bouey was not allowed to call a lawyer while she was being held, according to the lawsuit.
Bouey was forced to strip down to her bra and underwear and had a flashlight aimed at her private parts.
“The police officer who had inappropriately searched me the first two times was behind me with a flashlight,” Bouey said during a virtual news conference Tuesday. Bouey was then forced to disrobe completely, the lawsuit said.
“After I took off my clothes, I was made to turn around. I had to bend over, I had to squat multiple times at their direction," Bouey said.
The community organization Alliance San Diego is helping Bouey with her lawsuit and hosted Tuesday's virtual news conference.
“It was not one officer alone who harmed Janine. Everyone who came into contact with her was complicit in her degrading treatment," Alliance San Diego Executive Director Andrea Guerrero said. “That includes the officer who racially profiled her and pulled her out of line, the officer who shoved a dog’s nose into her buttocks, the officer who penetrated her genitalia, the officer who forced her to remove all her clothes and had her bend over while others looked, the officer who took her shoelaces, her jewelry and belongings, handcuffed her to a bench, dismissed her pleas and tossed her out the back door."
After her belongings were returned to her, Bouey said she approached an officer at the counter on the way out and asked him a question. She said, “How would you feel if your mother suffered the same indignation I did, and his only response was those three words: ‘These things happen.’”
Bouey “did not have any drugs, pain medication, contraband or arrest warrants that day. She was the person in the photos of her valid U.S. passport, her valid U.S. passport card, and her valid California driver’s license, all of which she had on her or in her purse, according to the lawsuit. Also in her purse … police and fire pension pay stubs, and paperwork showing she had been at the dentist in Tijuana for a root canal that day.
“As a matter of policy, CBP does not comment on matters under litigation. Lack of comment should not be construed as agreement or stipulation with any of the allegations," a CPB spokesperson said in a statement.
NBC 7 did not hear back from the Department of Homeland Security.