Police Abuse

$3 Million Settlement Awarded to Students Subjected to Illegal, Invasive Mass Pat Down at Georgia High School

The Sheriff who ordered the search is being charged with sexual battery.

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Worth High School

The Georgia Sheriff's department that patted down an entire high school in a futile search for drugs has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a class action lawsuit.

The Worth County Sheriff's Office agreed to a settlement reached yesterday with nine of the roughly 900 students at Worth High School in Sylvester, more than 150 miles south of Atlanta. The students accused sheriff's deputies of groping their genitals and feeling inside their bras.

"We hope this settlement sends a message to law enforcement beyond just south Georgia — or beyond Georgia — that this abuse of power is just not tolerated," said Mark Begnaud, the Atlanta attorney who represented the students.

The April search, which Reason covered here, was done without any probable cause and over the objections of school staff. In response to the search, nine students filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that their Fourth and 14th Amendment rights had been violated.

"We did not give permission but they didn't as for permission," Lawrence Walters, the school's superintendent, told local NBC affiliate WALB. "I've never been involved with anything like that ever in the past 21 years and I don't condone it."

Wednesday's settlement, which still needs to be approved by a U.S. District judge, would put an end to that lawsuit. The legal troubles for Jeff Hobby, the Sheriff who ordered the search, are just beginning.

In October, Hobby was indicted on several charges related to the search, including sexual battery, false imprisonment, and violating his oath of office. On Monday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order removing Hobby from office.

That both Hobby and the Sheriff' Office he ran are suffering real consequences for their invasive and unjustified search is a rare silver-lining to the otherwise appalling story.

As Reason's Robby Soave noted back in April, "Teenagers are compelled to attend school until they reach a certain age. They do not lose their constitutional rights when they step inside one, however."

Wednesday's settlement vindicates the idea that students do indeed have rights.

NEXT: Minor Violations Lead to Massive Prosecution Fees in Two California Desert Towns

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  1. Breaking, Al Franken accused of sexual assault.

    Another prominent public figure has been accused of making unwanted sexual advances. LA radio host Leeann Tweeden said Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., forced himself on her and groped her while the two were on a USO tour in 2006.

    #MeToo

    1. Well, Roman Polanski…

    2. “Goshdarnit, i’m good enough, i’m smart enough, and people like me (to touch their breasts)!”

      1. Well, she was in Playboy. So she was asking for it. I think that’s the rule. If you’ve posed nude, you are fair game.

        (Note: I don’t actually think this)

        1. There is a picture of him rubbing her breasts while she was asleep on a plane. Think about that. We have a picture of a sitting Senator sexually assaulting a sleeping woman.

            1. Yeah. There you go. The woman didn’t know he did it until after the USO tour she gets a CD with all of the pictures from the tour and on it is this picture of Al Franken groping her on the flight out of Iraq.

              Seriously, what a fucking dirtbag.

          1. Yeah, I saw it. I think her story of his kissing her like a creepy weirdo is worse (though undocumented).

            I’m all used up on outrage about such things, though. I guess I’ve learned that a lot more people than I would have thought do shit like that.

            1. I am puzzled by how you can think it is okay or a good idea to grope a woman who is passed out next to you. I can honestly say I have never done that or been tempted to do that. What goes through these idiots’ heads?

              1. For the record, I don’t think that. I also cannot fathom what the hell these people are thinking. I have no problem if she wants to try to ruin his career or get him charged with something. It’s not my problem. It’s up to her, the senate and the voters of Minnesota.

              2. “I wonder what these feel like?”

          2. Much as I would enjoy watching Al Franken die slowly of some painful disease, I should point out:

            1. while he is a sitting Senator *now*, he wasn’t when the picture was taken and wouldn’t be for three years.
            2. he was clearly doing the “hover hands” thing, and she was wearing, literally, a bullet-proof vest.

            In some sense (2) makes it work. He wasn’t touching her out of sexual desire, which would at least be a healthy urge, if misdirected in this case. He was doing it to produce a photo that would humiliate and embarrass her, in revenge for her not wanting to sleep with him.

        2. Thanks for the note, because I was about to add you to my virtue filter.

    3. There is only one solution to this: affirmative consent. Have the woman digitally sign your Hittin’ It app, which keeps track of who you banged and when, and also allows you to rate their looks, sexual performance, and whether or not there was a climax. The affirmative consent will have a time stamp and a valid time window, and will specify what the affirmative consent includes. Anal, for example, will require an extra checkbox, and the woman better go over the checked options carefully. Once affirmative consent is given, there is no going back. The woman essentially gives up all agency until the time period elapses. This is the way of the future.

      1. Uhm, you forgot the breathalyzer attachment. If she blows a .08 or over, she cannot consent to anything.

        ***Only scum would hammer this comment with “blows” jokes, but this is the Reason comments section, so fasten your safety belts…

      2. Once affirmative consent is given, there is no going back.

        Clearly, you don’t understand rape culture.

      3. Look at it like this, once Big Brother is ubiquitous we can just check the no-gaps-anywhere camera feed to determine their guilt.

        /Great Britain

    4. Tony will be along any minute now to say what a pervert this cousinfucker is and how he should be immediately removed from the Senate.

      1. Along Came Tony would be a great sitcom.

        1. But is it PC to make a comedy about a retard?

          1. There already is one with Minnie Driver in it.

          2. Is Tony white? Because making fun of him would absolutely be PC!

            You know how some sitcom characters have their signature phrases? (“Dynomite!”) Picture Tony, “cousinfucker” and a laugh track. Comedy gold!

            There could be a Very Special Episode where the high school bully (a Republican, natch) makes fun of Tony’s “belief” in science? Guest-starring Al Gore, who flies to the school in his private jet to correct the bully’s evil ways. In the end, the bully gives up his insistence that science be based on facts, not beliefs, he and Tony reconcile and all three hold hands and sing Cumbaya?

            Then Tony says “cousinfucker” and cue the credits over the laugh track.

            Anyone have the WB’s program development department phone number?

            1. COUSINFUCKER!

              YOU’RE ALL COUSINFUCKERS!

              You’re cousinfuckers I gotta say, fucking your cousins every day.

              Also Al Franken isn’t a cousinfucker so much as a creepy pervert, but then, that describes 50% to 90% of all Senators.

              COUSINFUCKER!

            2. …Cumbaya…

              Not sure if intentional, but pretty apropos.

              1. It was intentional — thank you for noticing. Couldn’t think of how to spell the damn thing correctly so I went for the 4th-grade-boy version.

      2. Personally, I’m waiting, with bated breath, for Buttplug unleash a furious flurry of fervent fulminations against Franken. Got my popcorn, candy, and soda; I’m ready to wait a while.

        1. Oh no, the Plug DEFENDS rapist Democrats.

          Seriously he went on a long series of comments defending Weinstein, going full rape apologist..

  2. I love fried bacon.

    1. Especially when nice and crispy.

      1. Ugh, crispy bacon is the worst kind of bacon.

    2. Yeah, sonny, true fried bacon is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice M.L.T.; a mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. [smacks lips] They’re so perky, I love that.

  3. The students accused sheriff’s deputies of groping their genitals and feeling inside their bras.

    Tough job but somebody’s gotta do it. God bless our public servants for their sacrifice.

    1. The thin blue line between virtue and the barbarian hordes is lace trim.

  4. “Teenagers are compelled to attend school until they reach a certain age. They do not lose their constitutional rights when they step inside one, however.”

    Public schools are unwavering in their respect for students’ Third Amendment rights.

    1. Public schools don’t force students to quarter troops in peacetime?

      1. If you can find a case of it happening, you’re welcome to share it.

        1. I read about a 3rd Amendment lawsuit during the Obama administration, but I can’t find it anymore.

          1. That’s because it was DISAPPEARED!!!

            Wake up sheeple!!!

          2. Bet it involved Hillary, somehow.

            1. And a pizza parlor!

  5. Please tell me some employee at least got a wrist-slap. Please.

    1. The sheriff and two deputies are up on sexual battery charges.

      1. “The sheriff and two deputies are up on sexual battery charges.”
        Red-face icon; see ‘correction’.

        1. Reading is fun-damental, Sevo.

      2. Charged doesn’t mean convicted. I’m sure they’ll request a bench trial, and nothing else will happen. They certainly won’t be foolish enough to go in front of a jury.

    2. RTFA, Sevo:
      “On Monday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order removing Hobby from office.
      Thankyouthankyouthankyou

      1. *Not* removed. Replaced with a substitute Sheriff until the charges are dealt with (read: until he’s acquitted) or until his term ends.

  6. We hope this settlement sends a message to law enforcement beyond just south Georgia ? or beyond Georgia ? that this abuse of power is just not tolerated…

    Well, to south Georgia (and beyond) taxpayers.

  7. Britches’ alt-text sense of humor is beyond me.

    1. I think Britches has that gene that eliminates all sense of humor. It is common in certain populations and confers a definite survival advantage. While the enemy tribe was distracting most of their warriors with silly spear antics, some of the warriors were immune and attacked, assuring access to scare resources.

    2. Read it backwards.

      1. Can I get it on vinyl and play it backwards?

  8. In other news, Al Franken resigns from the Senate to take up a new career working for the Worth County Georgia Sheriff’s Department.

  9. “As Reason’s Robby Soave noted back in April, “Teenagers are compelled to attend school until they reach a certain age. They do not lose their constitutional rights when they step inside one, however.”

    To be sure.

    1. On the other hand…

      1. While certainly…

  10. It’s good that the Sherriff’s office settled. Now the $3 million can be taken from the general tax fund instead of the board of education’s tax funding.

  11. Yes, students do have rights. They are us. A friend brought suit for a cease and desist order when his high school in New Jersey experienced auto searches, locker searches while locked in an office…The ACLU got that order for us. Things got better, but, and as I remember, there was later backlash. That was in the late sixties. You have done more than ask for American justice and rights. You have obtained reparation. Please don’t forget the rights you are fighting for. Trusting you are well and happy, y’all..:-)

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