In April, Sheriff Jeff Hobby led his deputies into Worth County High School and together conducted a search on all 900 students. In response, students from the high school initiated a federal civil rights lawsuit against the department. On Tuesday, Hobby was indicted by a grand jury for sexual battery, false imprisonment and violation of oath of office.
Sheriff Hobby alleges that he entered the school with a list of 12 students who were suspected of carrying drugs, though according to the Washington Post, only three from that list were on the premises that day. Though his department had had no warrant, Hobby maintains that the search was legal because school officials agreed to it and were present. Those officials tell a different story:
“We did not give permission but they didn’t ask for permission,” Interim Worth County Superintendent Lawrence Walters told WALB after the raid. “He just said, the sheriff, that he was going to do it after spring break.”
“I don’t think anybody in the school system had any idea that it would be of the nature of what actually happened,” Tommy Coleman, a lawyer for the school district.
Students were lined up in the hall and searched in front of one another. Several students allege inappropriate touching, saying their genitals were cupped and touched by deputies, who also looked down their clothes. One girl said a deputy reached under her bra and touched her nipples. Some wore gloves some did not. The search produced no drugs or arrests. According to MyAJC, the officer who groped a girl’s nipples was not indicted:
“I’m disappointed that the deputy that violated my daughter was not indicted,” said Amaryllis Coleman. “I don’t know how I’m going to tell this to my daughter.”
Two of Hobby’s deputies were also indicted by the Georgia grand jury. Tyler Turner and Deidra Whiddon are both facing one felony count of violation of oath of office, and Turner was additionally indicted for one misdemeanor count of sexual battery. WSBTV reports that warrants have not yet been issued for the arrest of Hobby, Turner or Whiddon, but District Attorney Paul Bowden expects them to be ready sometime this week, and is seeking Hobby’s suspension.