We just got word of a sheriff indicted for groping 900 students in alleged drug searches. This story sickens us. But we recognize the importance of knowing everything that is happening under our current administration. It is a regime that not only sanctions outrages but is pathologically obsessed with cracking down on drugs. This latest report is all the more disgusting because it happened to innocent high school kids.
On April 14, 40 uniformed officers raided the Worth County High School in southern Georgia just as the morning bell rang. Sheriff Jeff Hobby put the school on lockdown and demanded that the 900 students in the school that day line up against the classroom walls and hallways. He then confiscated all of their cellphones.
Sheriff Hobby and his 40 adult officers then subjected all of the students (teenagers) to a body search. The officers did not have a warrant. Sheriff Hobby justified his actions by saying he had a “target list” of 12 suspected drug users. Only three of those students were in school that day.
By noon, the officers had found absolutely no drugs in the school. More to the point, they found no drugs in the possession of any of the teenaged students they illegally searched.
Are you wondering where the school principal and outraged teachers were? We are too.
Blatant Sexual Assault
In the days that followed this unwarranted–again, literally unwarranted– school invasion, a number of students bravely came forward and reported that the police officers had inappropriately groped, touched and manhandled them.
In the reports, the students said that the officers touched their genitals, groins, looked inside their clothes and underwear, grabbed their testicles and their backsides, and repeatedly rubbed their entire bodies. One girl said a deputy reached under her bra and touched her nipples.
A class-action federal civil suit, reports the Washington Post, was filed on behalf of nine unnamed students.
Final Hit: Sheriff Indicted for Groping 900 Students in Alleged Drug Searches
This week, a grand jury voted to have the sheriff indicted for groping 900 students in alleged drug searches. Two of Sheriff Hobby’s deputies were also indicted for their part in the high school raid and mass sexual assault. Hobby faces charges of sexual battery, false imprisonment and violation of oath of office, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The sheriff tried to argue his lack of culpability in an off-camera interview to WALB. He said he’s not guilty because school administrators were present. However, the school officials tell a different story.
“We did not give permission, but they didn’t ask for permission,” Interim Superintendent Lawrence Walters told WALB after the raid.
Tommy Coleman, a lawyer for the school district, told the Washington Post: “I don’t think anybody in the school system had any idea that it would be of the nature of what actually happened.”
Local prosecutors also announced this week that they would send copies of the indictment to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, who has the legal authority to suspend Hobby. The Journal-Constitution reported that Hobby and his deputies have had their law enforcement certifications suspended.
While it’s good that Hobby and two of his officers are facing consequences for their disgusting actions, we need to acknowledge that sexual assault is not at all uncommon during drug searches. Even in schools. We can only hope that the students will receive the appropriate support and counseling after this traumatic event.