Students at Worth County High School in Sylvester, Georgia, have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against their county sheriff after he ordered what the complaint describes as a schoolwide drug sweep involving pat-down searches of hundreds of teenagers, without any specific probable cause.
On April 14, Sheriff Jeff Hobby and dozens of “hero” deputies descended upon Worth County High School searching for students in possession of arbitrarily illegal substances. According to the students’ legal complaint, the “heroes” proceeded to go to every classroom and physically search nearly every student present for drugs. The deputies, the lawsuit alleges, used “pat down” searches, with some deputies touching female students’ breasts and male students’ genitalia.
Tommy Coleman, a lawyer for the district, corroborated the students’ account of the search. “I thought the [students’] complaint in the suit very accurately described what happened,” he said. “We’d like for it to be resolved in the best interests of these kids.”
The district hasn’t joined the lawsuit on behalf of the students because it lacks the standing to do so, Coleman said. The lawsuit contends that the students, not the school district, were harmed by the searches.
In the aftermath of the search, the sheriff told local media that the pat-down searches of students were legal because school administrators were present. He also said he believed drugs were present at the school, and that a separate drug search performed several weeks earlier by police from the city of Sylvester had not been thorough enough.
Neither search turned up any illicit drugs, according to Coleman.
In the days after the search, the sheriff’s office acknowledged in a news release that at least one deputy had touched students in an inappropriate manner.
“After the pat down was conducted it was discovered that one of the deputies had exceeded the instructions given by the Sheriff and conducted a pat down of some students that was more intrusive than instructed by the Sheriff,” the statement said. “Upon discovery of the deputy’s actions, the Sheriff has taken corrective action to insure that this behavior will not occur again.”
“Corrective action.” Any non-“hero” who fondled a teenage kid would have been arrested and charged with a sex crime.
Hobby’s office also refused multiple requests for an interview and declined to answer repeated requests from The Washington Post for more details about the school search.
Worth County High School students are upset over their treatment by Hobby and his “heroes.”
J.E., one of the plaintiffs who is being identified only by his initials because he is a minor, said in an interview with The Washington Post that when deputies arrived at his 10th-grade agriculture class, they marched the students out to the hall, lining them up, girls on one side of the hallway and boys on the other.
The deputies, J.E. says, made everyone put their palms on the wall, spread their legs and take their shoes off.
J.E. says that during his search, the deputy put his hands in J.E.’s back pockets and then under his shirt. He then, J.E. says, rubbed down both of the student’s legs from his thighs to his ankles, and back up between them.
“He came up under my privates and then he grabbed my testicles twice,” J.E. said in an interview. “I wanted to turn around and tell him to stop touching me. I wanted it to be over and I just wanted to call my dad because I knew something wasn’t right.”
J.E.’s allegations of improper contact are part of a legal complaint filed jointly by nine students after outraged parents contacted Horsley Begnaud LLC, a civil rights law firm based in Atlanta.
According to the students’ complaint , some of the deputies – Hobby’s office brought more than two dozen, the complaint says – stuck their hands in students’ bras and underwear. The complaint includes allegations that some deputies cupped the genitals of the boys and exposed the breasts of some of the girls to their classmates.
Sometimes the deputies wore gloves. Other times they didn’t, according to the complaint.
Another student involved with the lawsuit was in a different class than J.E. at the time of the search but described a similar search procedure: Deputies ordered students out of his ninth-grade literature class and into the hallway, segregated them by gender, and then systematically physically searched each one.
“Some people were crying,” the ninth-grader said in an interview. “Kids weren’t allowed to go home; they weren’t allowed to tell their parents” during the search.
The suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. In their complaint, the students contend the “unlawful and intrusive” searches violated their rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments.
The sheriff had no warrant to perform the search, according to the complaint. Coleman, the lawyer for the school district, says the sheriff’s office told school officials they suspected 13 students of possessing drugs in setting up the search. It’s unclear what information formed the basis for this suspicion — lawyers for the students said in an interview they haven’t seen it yet, and the sheriff’s office declined to provide details to The Post.
“I’m not aware of anything like this ever happening in Georgia,” Mark Begnaud, one of the students’ lawyers, said in an interview. “It’s obviously unconstitutional, a textbook definition of police overreach.”
Coleman, the district lawyer, said the school knew deputies were planning a search that day, but it was unaware that it would involve pat-downs of nearly every student.
“I don’t think anybody in the school system had any idea that it would be of the nature of what actually happened,” Coleman said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve never heard of anybody doing that kind of thing.”
Coleman said the school district did not authorize the pat-downs of the students, adding that school officials lacked the legal authority to challenge the sheriff’s actions. “Sheriffs in Georgia have pretty broad authority,” Coleman said. “That authority doesn’t end at the schoolhouse door.”
Coleman said that law enforcement officers may on occasion pat down individual students, in the presence of a school administrator, if there is probable cause to believe that the student is in possession of illegal contraband. But he added he doesn’t even know if the sheriff had probable cause on the 13 students Coleman said were originally targeted – to say nothing of the hundreds who were not on that list but searched anyway.
Hobby’s search included an information blackout while it was going on. The students were required to surrender their cellphones, J.E. said, and parents calling into the school say they were unable to get information about what was happening.
Parents were not warned of the search, which lasted four hours, nor were they allowed to contact their children while it was going on. “When I found out about the search, I called the school. I wanted to know what was going on,” said Jonathan Luke, the stepfather of a student. “They flat out said we went on a lockdown and we can’t give any other details.”
The parents and students involved with the lawsuit vow to press their case until Hobby is removed from office. “We really want Sheriff Hobby gone,” J.E. said.
The students’ lawyers then hope to get their lawsuit classified as a class action, which would allow them to represent all students involved in the search at the school, not just the nine named in the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs are awaiting the sheriff office’s formal answer to the suit, which must be delivered within 60 days.
Schools are patrolled and surveilled 24/7 now.
Police are as ubiquitous as lunch ladies, janitors, and coaches. In locum parents for kids to be thankful for and obey.
An FBI Agent awards three Humble TX School District police officers an award at the July 2016 Board of Trustees meeting.
If nothing else, there is now a couple thousand people who will never trust a cop again.
Glad I when to a private school, the local police wanted to do a warrantless search once (this would have been about 1990) for drugs. School administrators actually managed to prevent it when they got an attorney on the phone who told the lead hero no freaking way to coming into the building.
So why didn’t the administrators try to stop the police? Can hero’s just enter a public building? They must seem to think they can and they do.
Kudo’s to the kids to managing to hide whatever they may have had. Saved someone from some drug charges. Coming out empty handed with a bunch of lawsuits and bad publicity will be the ways to shut down this sh*t because the courts won’t ever do it.
The school districts work with the police for zero tolerance drug policies. Why would they prevent them from coming? They probably invited them.
This attack on rights could have been stopped dead in its tracks by the students or teachers or administration. The admin said they “had no jurisdiction”. Neither did the cops. Badges don’t give unlimited jurisdiction. They don’t get to do whatever they want, UNLESS people let them. This is the lesson that should have been learned in their history/civics class. Most students, teachers, and bureaucrats knew it was wrong, and probably illegal, but they allowed it. They followed orders. They disgraced themselves if they knew. What the cops did was not as disgusting as the fact that it was allowed by all. Not one person stood up to the cops. Not one person stood up for rights.
This attitude of compliance against conscience was not shared by the American rebels in the 1700s. They stood up for themselves, and not one country came to their defense. They defeated the most powerful empire in the world, alone, with their spirit of independence. And the world’s best flocked here to enjoy the freedom they took by force from their oppressor. Using that freedom a 3rd world country became the strongest in the world, in every sense.
It is clear from this abject subjugation to authority the American sprit is dead in that school. Rights are forfeit. Prosperity is quickly following.
This sounds good on the internet. However it is not 1700. Kids are not going to stand up the the freaking gov’t, parents are not going to. Entire nations can’t. There is a missing piece that they had in 1700 that we do not have now and it is not spirit.
They had independence where as we are totally dependent. Lets say this texas town decides its time to fight. Within a month they would all be starving as all food and water would be shut off. Our lives totally rely on the system to work and attempting to destroy the system means everyone dies.
I know, all these hardcore preppers will survive, you really think they don’t know where you are? They’ll send a team in or a drone and you’ll all be dead.
They only way you will see a fight is when life gets so bad that to not fight is to die, like Venezuela.
That may be the redpilled truth in most places, but hopefully not all.
How come the Soviet Union collapsed even though it wasn’t a life or death situation?
Texans have the right and obligation to bear arms against tyranny. And to sustain each other against the elite beltway tyrannists.
What would Texans do if this town was starved by the feds?
I think they’d fucking rally to defend the latest Alamo situation, because even city Texans aren’t a bunch of cucks unlike residents in many cities.
If enough Texans grok what the feds are doing in the schools, and many already do, they’ll ride to the rescue and restore local sovereignty by force of will.
America’s complacency problem
Even Texans are too complacent
These are cuck suggestions by a DC Swamp Professor, substitute more redpilled activities.
Tor the gov’t may well collapse one day like the soviet union did. The soviet union didn’t die in a fireball of citizens fighting the gov’t. It over reached and ran out of money. If one day we lose reserve currency status, we’ll see the US spending end too.
I hate to say Texas is one of the biggest jokes there is, they constantly talk this tough talk. Yet they have some of the most oppressive cops there are.
I also suspect that many in Russia and around the world are much more self sufficient that here. Everyone on the east coast relies on food grown 2,000 miles away. We have great farm land and climate here and still virtually no food is grown.
No one who defends government (as presently based on a monopoly of force) can answer the question: “Who will protect you from your protectors when they violate you?”
Or, “Why does everyone have to live under the same threat, the same monopoly of force that you prefer?”
One honest answer is: “We live in a democracy. The majority want you to suffer like they do.” But where does the majority get the right to use force on the minorities? Might does not make right. Isn’t that why the F.F. created a republic, NOT a democracy?
It’s disheartening, kids wearing their ID lanyards like mindless cattle. Telling you how cool the school cop car is and the neat weapons kept n the trunk.
Being trained for a heated air conditioned concentrate on drivel camp adulthood. No one dies. But no one truly lives either.
Schools are day prisons nowadays. Suffer the little inmates.
Kingwood High School student accused of making threats on social media
Trickle down, New Deal, what all centralized economics systems accomplish.
“Schools are day prisons nowadays. Suffer the little inmates.”
True that! This is why the gov’t is doing their damnedest to steal children from parents, indoctrinate them into statist mentalities and social marxism philosophies. Each is trained to be a good lil slave, hyper-sexualization of the girls leads some into beta-kitten type careers to feed the perversions of our leaders in gov’t. Emasculation of the boys ensures compliant and shackle-ready citizens for whatever needs the oligarchs have.
Home school. Any parent who keeps their children in public schools despises their child’s welfare, spiritually, intellectually, physically, and definitely EMOTIONALLY.
Great post, Tor Libertarian.
I recall many years back when searches like this took place in some Tx. schools. The heroes would tell the students they left their rights at the door of the school but some costly court cases disabused the LE’s of that notion.
When the FLDS “compound” in Schliecher county Tx. was raided the children were separated from parents and the CPS hauled them away. I said the whole thing was illegal and the courts agreed nearly to everything except a couple men were convicted of sex with underage girls. A year later almost all children were returned to their parents. Then the stories began to surface about the known sex offenders who regularly got children from the CPS, a great gig for the perverted in and out of govt. Those suits just kept on coming. No telling what the financial cost for Texans and US citizens both came to but it was significant.
On a similar thing of copland over-reach is the Waco biker debacle where it was slowly proved that everybody there was killed by the cops even while some people remain in jail. Those suits are going to cost Waco so much money there’s talk of the city going bankrupt. I don’t want to pay for it and the state is sloughing it off on the city. Once the city residents have been thoroughly fleeced I’d bet there’ll be some major restructuring.
There will be no justice here, there never is. Everyone present including the sheriff should be charge with sexual assult on a minor, abuse of power, terrorist threats and sentenced to 25 years in prison and added to the sexual predator list. Plus personally paying restitution to the kids.
Actually perhaps adding to megans law and being forced to pay restitution would be better. Skip Jail, they need to pay. If they are not working on the weekend, they can spend the weekends in jail.
No justice would be the best outcome, more likely there will be a ruling that normalizes this behavior.
‘No justice’ is ALWAYS the outcome for us hoi polloi.