Real estate agent Jennifer Reynolds, 35, never thought it could happen to her.

A graduate of Baltimore's Loyola College, she owns a home in trendy Northeast Baltimore. She has never been arrested.

But none of that seemed to matter on Labor Day, when she went to an overnight party on McCormick's Island in the Susquehanna River.

She and scores of others were charged with violating a ordinance that outlaws gatherings of more than 20 people in a park without a permit. She was put in handcuffs and taken to Dauphin County Prison.

Following jail procedure, a female guard took her to a shower stall and ordered her to strip.

"She says, 'OK, take off your clothes.' She looks at me from the front. She says, 'Turn around. You need to bend over and cough.' "

"She said, 'No, no. That's not good enough. You need to bend your knees more and do it again.' "

Reynolds was freed hours later when her boyfriend paid $1,051 for her release.

For Reynolds, the experience was a sudden revelation: Civil rights weren't an abstract notion anymore. She has now joined three others in a class-action suit against the county, still pending. The county says it has proper procedures, and calls the strip searches of Reynolds and other partygoers an aberration.

"I really lost a lot of faith in the American judicial system," Reynolds said.

- Mark Fazlollah