Mom: 10-year-old strip-searched after being accused of stealing

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CLINTON, N.C. -- The mother of a 10-year-old North Carolina boy said her son was strip-searched after he was accused of stealing from another student.

Clarinda Cox told WRAL-TV that her son, Justin, was instructed to remove most of his clothing at Union Elementary School on June 1 after several students accused him of taking $20.

The third-grader was left wearing only a T-shirt and boxer shorts when the school's assistant principal, Teresa Holmes, searched him, Clarinda Cox said.

After Holmes found nothing in the search, she reportedly hugged Justin and later apologized.

The money was found under a lunchroom table, Holmes told the station.

Justin reportedly told his mother that the girl who initially made the accusation had dropped the money.  Justin claims he had picked it up and returned it to her, his mom said.

Clarinda Cox said she was "furious" to learn about the incident from her son when he returned home that day as opposed to being notified by school officials.

A Sampson County Schools spokesperson agreed that the mother should have been notified, but said Holmes did nothing wrong in searching the boy, WRAL reports.

The spokesperson said a male janitor was present when the boy was searched.

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

Clarinda Cox told the station that Holmes "rubbed her fingers around the inside of his underwear" and that she feels her son was violated, despite the apology.