One Georgia sheriff is getting a taste of his own medicine. He’s defending himself against allegations that he falsely imprisoned and wrongfully searched hundreds of high school students. Sheriff Jeff Hobby of the Worth County Sheriff’s Department faces multiple charges because of the allegations.
Students at Worth County High School arrived at school for what they expected to be a normal school day. But Hobby had other plans. He and his entire department arrived at the school and locked the doors. They ordered students up against the walls in the hallway. Then, they started touching.
The officers say they were looking for drugs. They say they suspected drug use from as many as 12 students at the school. However, they searched approximately 900. The search took half the school day. Only three of the suspected drug users came to school that day. The search yielded no drugs and no arrests.
Whether the school consented to the events is a matter of contention. Sheriff’s officials say that the school worked with them to plan a date for the search. School officials say that they were told, not asked, about what was going to happen. When the sheriff’s deputies locked the doors, teachers weren’t even in on what was about to unfold.
The disagreement matters as several students have filed lawsuits about the events of the day. Many of the students say that they were sexually assaulted by deputies performing searches. They describe being touched in their private areas, in some cases multiple times. Students said that they knew the behavior wasn’t right, but they were powerless to stop it.
On his part, Hobby says that he’s not guilty of the charges. He says that he personally didn’t take part in the search. He also says that the deputies went beyond what he asked them to do. However, in an interview with a media outlet, Hobby said that he believed the actions of the day were valid, because school administrators were there during the searches. He says that he was just responding to citizens who wanted him to do something about drug use at the school.
Local prosecutors say that they want to see Hobby removed from his duties. To do that, they need cooperation from Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council has already revoked Hobby’s law enforcement certification. They’ve also taken certifications from some of the deputies involved in the actions of that fateful day.