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Canadian women 'molested by female US border guards,' lawsuits allege

Three Canadian women have filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually molested by female US border guards while trying to cross into the United States from Ontario.

Canadian us border 20120315Enlarge
A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands along the boundary marker cut into the forest marking the line between Canadian territory on the right and the United States near Beecher Falls, Vermont. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Three Canadian women have filed lawsuits saying they were molested by female US border guards while attempting to cross into the United States.

The women are suing four unnamed border patrol agents for violating their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches, the Detroit Free Press reported. 

In one of the lawsuits filed in a US court, Leslie Ingratta of Windsor, Ontario, alleges that border agents took her to a holding cell for questioning when she tried to travel to Detroit on a shopping trip, the Canadian Press said

The border agents accused her of lying about her reasons for traveling to the US, and during a search one of them fondled her breasts and groped her genitals, the lawsuit alleges. 

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According to the CP, Ingratta said in court documents that she was "taken back to the waiting room, crying and shaking, and told she was 'clear to enter the United States.'" But instead, traumatized by the experience, she returned to Canada.

"It was horrible. It was degrading — they treated me like a criminal and I have never been in trouble with the law," Ingratta, 33, told the Free Press.

In a separate lawsuit, Canadians Lisa Bhatt and Meera Sidhu, both 30, claim they were strip-searched and sexually molested while crossing into the US to attend an Alicia Keys concert in Detroit.

The CP reported that the women, one of whom was eight months pregnant at the time, "allege the guards penetrated them with their hands and fondled them 'in a prolonged, deliberate manner.'"

The women in both cases are seeking punitive damages and compensation for mental anguish and emotional distress. 

The Free Press said that US Customs officials declined to comment on the lawsuits.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/120315/canadian-women-molested-by-female-us-border-guards-lawsuit-leslie-ingratta