Keene’s lawyers say they have evidence against sheriff

The attorneys for a 19-year-old Moatsville woman who has filed a federal civil lawsuit against Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins claim they have obtained incriminating text messages, emails and Facebook messages to back up the claims of their client, Brittany Mae Keene.

Keene filed a 15-count complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia July 18 alleging Hawkins sexually assaulted her then threatened to kill her if she told anyone; it also accuses Hawkins of sexually assaulting five other teenage women, referenced only as Females No. 1 through 5.

The Barbour County Commission is named as a co-defendant in the suit, which was filed by Keene’s attorneys Paul J. Harris and Shawn L. Fluharty, both of Wheeling law firm Harris Law Office.

On Wednesday, the Harris Law Office issued a response to a written statement Hawkins sent out to media outlets Tuesday in which he denied all allegations contained in the suit. In his statement, Hawkins said the false allegations were merely a ploy on Keene’s part to obtain money – an assertion the Harris Law Office emphatically denied in the release, which was prepared by the public relations firm Mona Lisa Communications.

“For many years, Sheriff Hawkins has been victimizing young women in Barbour County and this lawsuit should come as no surprise to him,” the Harris Law Office statement reads. “The public has a right to know about the conduct of their elected official. Ms. Keene’s motive is to protect other women … period.

“Our office has obtained text messages, emails and Facebook correspondence that corroborates our client’s claims. Sworn statements from the five (unnamed) victims listed in the complaint, as well as others, have also been provided,” it continues. “While many of those in power have turned their heads to the outrageous conduct of the sheriff, we intend to put a stop to it.

“We look forward to our day in court.” The release is signed “Harris Law Offices, Counsel for Plaintiff (Ms. Keene).”

Keene’s July 18 complaint accuses Hawkins, the Barbour County Commission and/or both of: unlawful arrest; excessive force; civil conspiracy; tort of outrage/intentional infliction of emotional distress; battery; negligent retention and hiring; false imprisonment; negligent training and supervision; assault; deliberate indifference; malicious prosecution; abuse of process; sexual assault; providing alcohol to a minor; and dissemination of a nude photo of a minor.

Contact Katie Kuba by email at