A known system of abuse: That's what attorneys claim in federal lawsuit filed against MPD

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- There are new allegations in the strip search scandal involving the Milwaukee Police Department. Some are saying it wasn't just a few rogue officers -- but instead, a system of abuse involving dozens of victims with one thing in common. This, as a federal lawsuit is filed against MPD.

On Monday, July 7th, attorneys briefed the media on the lawsuit -- distributing a large stack of documents they say show a pattern of illegal strip searches involving Milwaukee police officers.

In a federal civil brief, attorneys claim 62 of these strip searches occurred between 2007 and 2012.

The attorneys say the victims are all African-American, and the officers are all white.

Attorney Flint Taylor calls the documents part of a potentially crippling pattern for the city of Milwaukee.

"Not once, not twice -- but over a period of years," Flint said.

The federal lawsuit alleges the Milwaukee Police Department and its chain of command knew about and are responsible for dozens of illegal searches or body cavity searches over about a four-year span.

That includes some of the 2012 criminal allegations filed against four Milwaukee police officers.

Three took plea deals -- and the fourth, Michael Vagnini, was sentenced to more than two years in prison.

All four have resigned from MPD.

Attorney Robin Shellow alleges up to an additional eight officers were involved -- directly or indirectly, and says there could be more victims.

"Let us not kid ourselves. There could be other complaints out there, who just didn't feel safe going to the police -- so there could be others with a story about the Milwaukee Police Department," attorney Robin Shellow said.

The federal brief accused Vagnini of performing more than two dozen illegal searches -- some that police looked into, and some that were dismissed. Some of these cases the attorneys claim the department ignored -- establishing what they describe as a pattern of illegal search acceptance.

"Those officers could not and would not have done this if it was not allowed to happen," Shellow said.

When asked for comment on this lawsuit being filed, MPD said they do not comment on pending litigation.