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Teen files federal suit accusing Barbour County sheriff of rape

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --  A teen filed a federal lawsuit against Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins on Monday, alleging that he raped her during a job interview and used his authority to silence her.

He is also accused of sexually assaulting another minor and four other women, according to a 15-count lawsuit filed by the Wheeling-based Harris Law Office against Hawkins and the Barbour County Commission.

In late August 2011, the victim, then 17, was working at a grocery store when she applied as a dispatcher with the Barbour County 911. Hawkins texted the victim in the late evening and told her to meet him at Haven of Hope Church in Philippi, according to the lawsuit.

Hawkins was wearing his police uniform and was carrying a gun when he asked her to get in the cruiser with him.

Hawkins then drove the teen to a county-owned camper because, he said, "he needed a private location where they would not be seen so people would not get the wrong idea," according to the lawsuit.

Inside the camper, Hawkins allegedly gave the victim a beer even though he knew she was not 21. Hawkins proceeded to interview the victim and then "abruptly declared that if [the victim] wanted the job, she would have to sleep with him," according to the lawsuit.

Hawkins grabbed the victim and slammed her face-forward against the wall of the camper and handcuffed her behind her back, according to the suit.

The lawsuit alleges he stuffed a handkerchief in her mouth and pushed her onto the camper bed. He then performed a sexual act on the victim as she sobbed and cried, according to the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Hawkins threatened to kill the victim if she ever told anyone what happened. He later texted a message referencing the sexual act and a photo he took of her naked.

In May 2012, Hawkins began texting the victim, threatening that he would have her indicted or kill her and hide her body if she told on him, according to the lawsuit. The victim was later indicted on one count of receiving stolen property on May 29. Hawkins was the lead investigator in the indictment, according to the lawsuit.

The indictment was dismissed after the victim filed a domestic violence petition against Hawkins in Barbour County Magistrate Court on June 5, 2012.

The lawsuit alleges Hawkins directed members of the sheriff's department and prosecuting attorney's office to prosecute the victim to divert attention away from the alleged rape.

The victim is also suing the Barbour County Commission for "retaining Hawkins as an employee when it knew ... of his proclivity for violence and predisposition toward violent acts," according to the lawsuit.

A working phone number for Hawkins could not be found Monday night. However, Hawkins posted a message to his Facebook profile Monday evening.

"Round #2. Thought all this was over with the election, but today I was sued in Federal Court. ...," Hawkins said in the post. "I don't mind being tried in court, as I will deny all the allegations. It's a civil suit for money. I just hate my family having to go through all the mudslinging in the media again. To my friends, sorry. I'd ask for prayers for my family but was bashed the last time for asking for prayers for them. So, true friends know where we live and how to get in touch [with] us."

According to the Associated Press, Hawkins said in a Facebook message that he would issue a statement later.  

The victim is seeking losses for medical expenses and from emotional fear, torment and suffering to her mind and body, according to the lawsuit. The suit alleges that Hawkins also violated the victim's constitutional rights by wrongfully detaining her.

The suit also alleges that Hawkins sexually assaulted four other women and a minor using excessive force.

An 18-year-old woman claimed Hawkins forced her to perform oral sex on him in a bathroom inside the Barbour County Courthouse. A minor female, age 16, claimed Hawkins threatened her with violence if she did not perform oral sex on him inside his police cruiser, according to the lawsuit.

One woman came forward alleging that Hawkins gave her drugs from the sheriff's evidence room in exchange for a sexual favor.

The lawsuit also alleges that Hawkins handcuffed a 19-year-old woman inside a barn at the Barbour County Fairgrounds and performed sexual acts on her against her will. Another woman claimed that Hawkins raped her after handcuffing her at the Barbour County shooting range, according to the lawsuit. 

The suit accuses Hawkins of unlawful arrest, excessive force, civil conspiracy, tort of outrage and intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, negligent retention and hiring, false imprisonment, negligent training and supervision, deliberate indifference, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, sexual assault, giving alcohol to a minor and dissemination of a nude photo of a minor.

Hawkins was elected to his second term as sheriff in May. 

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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