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.
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.
"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.
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."
- By Katie Kuba. Originally published July 23, 2013.