On April 14, 2017 Sheriff Jeff Hobby and his entire Worth County Sheriff’s Office conducted an illegal search at Worth County High School in Sylvester, Atlanta.
According to The Washington Post, the 40 uniformed officers spent four hours demanding students hand over their cellphones and 900 students were subjected to illegal pat downs. The school’s lockdown and police pat downs were for drugs. Hobby had a list of 12 suspected drug users, only three were present on the day of the sweep.
No drugs were found during this raid. But Hobby’s actions and lack of warrant have come back to haunt him.
Students from Worth County High School initiated a federal civil rights lawsuit against the department. Students are claiming they were inappropriately groped and manhandled by the officers. This past Tuesday a grand jury indicted Hobby and two other deputies, Tyler Turner and Deidra Whiddon.
Hobby faces charging of sexual battery, false imprisonment and violation of oath of office. Turner was indicted on one felony count of violation of office and one misdemeanor count of sexual battery. Whiddon faces one count of violation of oath of office.
Hobby insists that he is innocent because he didn’t partake in any pat downs. He also thinks that the raid and pat downs were legal because the Superintendent was informed prior. In a statement Hobby stated, “The Sheriff contacted the Superintendent of the Worth County School District and the Principal of the high school to inform them of the situation and the Principal and the Sheriff agreed on the day of the pat down.”
School officials said that this is not true. Interim Worth County Superintendent, Lawrence Walters said that Hobby didn’t ask for permission he just stated that the pat downs will happen after spring break and only was searching those 12 targeted students.
The lawsuit that nine students filed against the department went into great detail of how grossly inappropriate the officer’s pat downs were. One student recounted that a deputy “cupped” her “vaginal area and buttocks,” according to the legal complaint.
Another students recounted that an officer touched his penis and testicles, over his clothes, four to five times. Another student said that an officer went under her shirt, lifted her bra up and touched her bare breasts and nipples.
During the illegal pat downs students were lined up in the halls and searched in front of one another. Not all officers who participated in the illegal and sexual pat downs are facing charges or other consequences.