Third-grader strip-searched at North Carolina school after stealing claim

A third-grader was strip-searched at a North Carolina school after he was accused of stealing from another student.

Justin Cox, ten, a student at Union Elementary School in Clinton, was ordered to strip to his T-shirt and boxer shorts on June 1 after a girl student accused him of taking $20, WRAL TV reported.

He told his mom Clarinda Cox that a girl dropped the cash and he picked it up and returned it to her.

She told the TV station, "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."

Female assistant principal, Teresa Holmes, did not find the money, and hugged Justin and apologized to him afterwards, she claimed.

Holmes said the money was later found underneath the lunchroom table.

Sampson County Schools spokeswoman Susan Warren said Cox should have been informed about the search but that Holmes did nothing wrong and that a male janitor was present for the search.

"The assistant principal was within her legal authority, her legal right, to do the search," Warren said. "She may have been overzealous in her actions."

Cox said that, with or without an apology, her son was violated.

"She came up to him and rubbed her fingers around inside of his underwear," Cox said. "If that isn't excessively intrusive, I don't know what is."

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