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Student sues over mistaken drug bust

PHILADELPHIA -- When Bryn Mawr College freshman Janet Lee headed for a Christmas trip home two years ago, her luggage contained three condoms filled with flour -- which she and some friends made as a joke.

Philadelphia Airport screeners found the condoms, and their initial tests showed they contained drugs. Lee was arrested on drug trafficking charges and jailed. Three weeks later, she was released after a lab test backed her story, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday.

Lee filed a federal lawsuit last week against Philadelphia police, seeking damages for pain and suffering, financial loss, and emotional distress. She was arrested Dec. 21, 2003, was held on $500,000 bail, and faced up to 20 years in prison had she been convicted of the drug charges.

''I haven't let myself be angry about what happened, because it would tear me apart," Lee said. ''I'm not sure I can bear to face it. I'm amazed at how naive I was."

Screeners found the condoms filled with powder in her checked luggage shortly before she was to board a plane to Los Angeles. She said she told police they were filled with flour. She said she made them as a joke and would squeeze them to relieve stress.

Police told her a field test indicated that the powder contained opium and cocaine, but a lab test later proved the substance was flour and prosecutors dropped the charges, the Inquirer reported.

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