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Federal civil lawsuit alleges multiple victims

July 23, 2013
By Katie Kuba - City Editor ( , The Inter-Mountain

Editor's Note

Today's two stories regarding the civil suit filed in federal court against Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins and the Barbour County Commission contain graphic as well as sexually explicit material. Readers are advised to proceed with caution.


Article Photos

Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins is facing a civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. The suit was filed Thursday by Brittany Mae Keene. (The Inter-Mountain file photo)

A Philippi woman has filed a federal civil suit against Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins claiming he sexually assaulted her and then threatened to kill her if she told anyone, according to information uncovered Monday by The Inter-Mountain.

Brittany Mae Keene, 19, names Hawkins and the Barbour County Commission as co-defendants in a 15-count suit filed Thursday in the Elkins office of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

The federal suit, submitted by attorneys Paul J. Harris and Shawn L. Fluharty, both of Wheeling, 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.

Fact Box


May 7, 2012

Brittany Mae Keene alleges that on this date Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins sent her a text message containing a "veiled threat to have her indicted."


May 11, 2012

Keene files a domestic violence

protection order petition in Randolph County against Hawkins.


May 30, 2012

Keene is arrested on one felony count of receiving stolen property and two misdemeanor counts of transferring stolen property after being named in a sealed



May 31, 2012

Keene enters a not-guilty plea to charges in the indictment.


June 5, 2012

Keene withdrew her request for the order for protection.


June 9, 2012

Keene claims in a story published in The Inter-Mountain that her arrest was intended to keep her silent. Keene said she filed the petition for protection because Hawkins allegedly threatened to have her indicted and also threatened her with death if she spoke publicly about what she said was a non-consensual sexual relationship between them.


June 12, 2012

Barbour County Prosecuting Attorney Leckta Poling and Circuit Judge Alan D. Moats recuse themselves from Keene's felony case after The Inter-Mountain article is published.


June 15, 2012

Hawkins takes to social media to deny allegations made by Keene.


July 7, 2012

Poling shares via The Inter-Mountain that the FBI was alerted months earlier about Keene's allegations against Hawkins.


July 18, 2012

Keene's bond was modified. The court ruled she had to check in with Community Corrections three days a week and be randomly drug tested one of those days each week.


July 25, 2012

Keene's attorney files a motion to dismiss the charges against Keene claiming "outrageous government misconduct."


Aug. 17, 2012

The indictment against Keene is dismissed in Barbour County Circuit Court. No new indictments have been handed down against Keene.


July 18, 2013

Keene files a civil lawsuit against Hawkins and names Barbour County as a co-defendant.


July 22, 2013

News of the lawsuit breaks, and Hawkins and his family again use social media to respond.

Additionally, the suit alleges Hawkins engaged in sex acts with five female victims, identified only as Female Nos. 1-5.

While it is The Inter-Mountain's practice not to name the victims of alleged sexual assault, Keene has asked to go on record.

She also is identified by name in the lawsuit.

Article PDFs

"The names of the victims referenced as 'Female No. 1' through 'Female No. 5' will be disclosed upon agreement with defendants regarding the use of the victims' names," according to court documents filed in the case.

The case alleges the following with regard to the females:

"Female No. 1: Defendant Hawkins threatened to institute criminal charges against a female, approximately 18 years old, unless she performed oral sex on him, and the female unwillingly complied by performing oral sex on Defendant Hawkins in a bathroom located in the Barbour County Courthouse;

"Female No. 2: Defendant Hawkins arrested Female No. 2, approximately 16 years of age, and threatened to proceed forward with the prosecution unless the female performed oral sex on him, and the female unwillingly performed oral sex on Defendant Hawkins in his police cruiser; Defendant Hawkins warned her to say nothing or he would hurt her;

"Female No. 3: Defendant Hawkins forced Female No. 3 to perform oral sex on him in exchange for drugs he obtained from the police evidence room;

"Female No. 4: Defendant Hawkins, while in uniform, handcuffed a 19-year-old female in the barn at the Barbour County Fairgrounds, performed various sex acts on her against her will, and, in addition, forced her to have sex with him in a closet at his office at the Barbour County Courthouse;

"Female No. 5: Defendant Hawkins handcuffed Female No. 5 at the Barbour County shooting range and performed various sex acts on her against her will; Defendant Hawkins told her to keep her mouth shut or he would kill her."

When reached by telephone Monday, Hawkins told The Inter-Mountain the accusations presented in the lawsuit are false.

"These are the same allegations that were made before prior to the (November) election," he said. "I denied them then, and I deny them now. I will defend this in court - not in the media."

Considering the nature of the allegations, Hawkins was asked about his active-duty status. He said he still is the sheriff of Barbour County, a position to which he was re-elected in November. However, when reached by phone Monday evening, Barbour County Administrator Chuck Foley declined to answer questions about whether Hawkins remains employed by the county.

"All comments will be answered by the Barbour County Commission's legal counsel," Foley said, noting such representation is provided by Attorney Keith Gamble of the Morgantown law firm Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe, LLC.

In an email message to The Inter-Mountain Monday night, Gamble said he would speak with The Inter-Mountain later today about the matter.

Voicemail messages left with Barbour County Commissioners Timothy McDaniel and Phil Hart were not returned as of presstime. No contact information was on file for Commissioner Jed Schola.

The lawsuit states the commission "knew or should have known of the proclivity and tendency for violence and excessive force of Hawkins in performing his law enforcement duties, yet the county defendant, nevertheless, permitted and authorized him to continue in his capacity as sheriff and law enforcement officer and retained him as such, thereby ratifying his conduct punctuated by violence and excessive force, specifically including his proclivity for unlawfully and completely unnecessarily using excessive force on citizens and arrestees."

The lawsuit asks that Keene be compensated for her "special and general injuries," losses and damages, exemplary damages, attorney fees and court costs as well as "other legal and equitable relief to which she may be entitled."



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