PHILIPPI, W.Va. —  A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins. It alleges he sexually assaulted a teenager in August 2011. The woman, now 19, claims she thought she was meeting Hawkins for a job interview when he allegedly forced himself on her and then threatened her to keep her quiet.

The sheriff released a statement Tuesday morning in response to be served with the lawsuit Monday.   

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“First and foremost, I deny the allegations in the complaint,” Sheriff Hawkins said. “As for me and my office, I am surrounded by a competent and caring staff. The Sheriff’s Office in Barbour County will continue to operate on a daily basis. We will handle business to the best of our ability and respond to your needs as quickly and efficiently as we can.”

The lawsuit names Hawkins as well as the Barbour County Commission as defendants.

There are 15-counts in the suit filed by the Harris Law Firm out of Wheeling. The documents include claims that Hawkins sexually assaulted another minor and four other women for a total of six victims.

The teen who filed the suit was indicted last year on charges of receiving stolen property. Hawkins was the lead investigator in that case. The charges were later dropped against her after she filed a domestic violence petition against Hawkins.

The suit includes allegations of unlawful arrest, excessive force, assault and battery, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and sexual assault.

Hawkins said Tuesday he has no plans to step down from office. “I am still in office and still serving the county.”


Sheriff Hawkins’ full statement:

On Monday morning, I was served with a notice that a Civil Suit had been filed in Federal Court, naming me, the Sheriff’s Office and the Barbour County Commission as defendants. The allegations in the Civil Suit are the same allegations that were lodged against me in another civil matter during the election in 2012.

First and foremost, I deny the allegations in the complaint.

Unfortunately in today’s society issues like these are tried more in the “Court of Public Opinion”, than in our Judicial System where they belong. By Monday afternoon, someone had tipped every news agency in the area of the lawsuit. Fortunately, one reporter gave me a courtesy call to allow me to comment and also inform my family of the issue before it went public.

Over the next few months, this lawsuit will proceed. Both sides have attorneys who will exchange information and negotiate. The outcome, the Plaintiff seeks money for damages caused by her allegations. Either they will get money or they won’t. That will be up to a jury to decide. The jury will be picked from the same citizens who will have been blitzed by the media coverage of this.

Therefore, my comments in the media will be brief. As I posted yesterday to my friends on a Social Media, which was copied to the front page of a newspaper, I am sorry my family and friends have to go through this yet again. No one knows until they live through this the toll it takes on spouses, children and other relatives. A simple task of going to the grocery store can become unbearable. And all of it over false allegations to try and get money.

As for me and my office, I am surrounded by a competent and caring staff. The Sheriff’s Office in Barbour County will continue to operate on a daily basis. We will handle business to the best of our ability and respond to your needs as quickly and efficiently as we can. Some tasks, such as Estates, Grants and other duties may be put on a back burner while I prepare a defense to these allegations, as our staff is limited.

I appreciate all the support you have shown me and my family by the calls, messages and prayers sent our way so far. It is sad it takes a tragic event such as this to appreciate the friends and support you have.

When I chose to run for public office it was to serve the citizens in the County I loved. I was born and raised here and this is where I wanted to raise my family. In the next few months I will have to re-evaluate that decision and make the decision that best serves my family. In the mean time, I am still in office and still serving the county.



John W. Hawkins


Statement from Harris Law Firm:

Today, Harris Law Offices issued the following statement in response to a media statement made by Defendant Sheriff John Hawkins of Barbour County, West Virginia:
“For many years, Sheriff Hawkins has been victimizing young women in Barbour County and this lawsuit should come as no surprise to him.  The public has a right to know about the conduct of their elected official.  Ms. Keene’s motive is to protect other women … period.  Our office has obtained text messages, e-mails, and Facebook correspondence that corroborates our client’s claims.  Sworn statements from the five victims listed in the complaint, as well as others, have also been provided. While many of those in power have turned their heads to the outrageous conduct of the Sheriff, we intend to put a stop to it.  We look forward to our day in court.” – Harris Law Offices, Counsel for Plaintiff (Ms. Keene)  


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  • Levelheaded

    Looks like Barbour county has it's own Carlos Danger or worse.

  • oldskool

    The sheriff needs to be in jail! Barney only carried one bullet, the sheriff carries a cucumber.

  • Bill

    I think the Judge will throw out the County Commissions part in this lawsuit, and once the discovery phase of this case is thru it will be settled out of court, if the plaintiff has the evidence they claim to have.

  • Marshall

    That innocent until proven guilty folks have heard of it, haven't you? Why is the county commission being sued? The sheriff is a constitutional officer elected by the people, he is neither hired nor fired by the county commission. There are no allegations of impropriety against the commissioners (at least not reported here). This appears to be a "gold digging" operation by lawyers. These charges are all felonies....why the civil action? Simple ....there's no money to be made in criminal trials.

    • liberty4all

      Or perhaps the proof to convict is lacking. Don't know if this is the case but it could be a possibility. Besides, I thought the US Atty in Clarksburg was going after corruption - a local sheriff allegedly using his power and influence to gain sexual favors from young women certainly sounds like a place to start investigating. However, because we do not know all of the facts, perhaps this matter has already been looked at and it is not felt that the evidence exists or is credible? We are a long way from knowing everything about this matter.

  • Brian

    Hang him high!!!

  • Bill

    Why is Hawkins being treated differently than the average, Joe, does his being a police officer excuse him from following the law, it seems like everyday the average ,Joe, is being put into jail because of these same type allegations.

  • liberty4all

    In Moffett case, man found not guilty. Civil case pending. Comments devolve into frivolous lawsuits and how attorneys are scumbags (not acknowledging, of course, the wonderful work by the attorney representing Mr. Moffett and helping secure his innocence). Meanwhile, this story involves no criminal charges, only a civil lawsuit started with allegations. Instead of the same venom for frivolous lawsuits and attorneys, some on this thread (lee arthur and Tom excepted) appear to accept the allegations as true and have already convicted this man.

    Not sure why the stories are treated differently by some readers.

  • lee arthur

    What proof do you fine upstanding citizens have that this fella is a scumbag ?

  • oldskool

    The voters of Barbour County knew this "scumbag" was being investigated and still voted him back into office. That itself says alot for BC voters, I hope the county loses millions and Hawkins ends up in a cell with "Bubba".

    • Tom

      He has not been charged with a crime. It is a civil lawsuit.

  • blugldmn

    All he has to do is resign and the charges will be dropped, thats how it works for COPS....

    • Tom

      It is a civil lawsuit-not criminal charges.


    Another bully with a badge. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Multiple complaintants and victims. So plenty of fire and a lot of cover up coming.

  • Bill

    This guy is a "Dirt Bag", I hope he gets what he deserves!