Muslim Woman Claims in Lawsuit That Ventura County Sheriff’s Deputies Forced Her to Remove Headscarf While Jailed

A Muslim woman filed a federal lawsuit against the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department on Monday, claiming deputies forced her to remove her head scarf while in custody last year, a move that runs counter to established case law protecting the religious rights of people in police custody.

Jennifer Hyatt is shown in an undated photo. Hyatt claims in a federal lawsuit that Ventura County Sheriff's Office deputies removed her hijab and refused to give her an alternate form of cover when they arrested her in 2017. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Jennifer Hyatt is shown in an undated photo. Hyatt claims in a federal lawsuit that Ventura County Sheriff’s Office deputies removed her hijab and refused to give her an alternate form of cover when they arrested her in 2017. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

In the lawsuit, Jennifer Hyatt, a 44-year-old registered nurse from Newbury Park, claims a deputy snatched her head covering and refused to give it back or provide her an alternate form of cover when she was detained by the sheriff’s department for several hours on New Year’s Day in 2017.

In the Muslim faith, some observant women follow an interpretation of the Koran that requires them to cover their heads and much of their bodies for the sake of modesty and dignity.

When Hyatt protested that she could not be in the presence of men without her hijab because she is a practicing Muslim, a deputy replied, “Not in here, you’re not,” according to the suit.

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