A Georgia sheriff whose deputies allegedly groped nearly 1,000 students while conducting a drug search at a school in April has been suspended. The southern state’s governor, Nathan Deal, signed an executive order, which was announced on Monday. The order stated that Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby’s administration would be negatively affected by charges against Hobby. According to WFXL, the suspension went into effect immediately. It will last until the final disposition of the case or until Hobby’s office term expires.
Hobby currently faces charges of violation of oath by a public officer, two counts of false imprisonment and one count of sexual battery, according to NBC affiliate WALB. Hobby and several deputies from his department were indicted charges by a grand jury last month. The sheriff’s lawyer, Raleigh Rollins, has not commented on the charges which came after a federal lawsuit accused his administration of conducting warrantless searches of Worth County High School students. The sheriff has maintained his innocence, according to UPI.
The school in question had been hit by a series of burglaries before the search, according to NBC News. According to the class-action lawsuit, filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, deputies placed the school on lockdown for roughly four hours. During that time, students were ordered to stand “spread eagle” in the school’s gymnasium. The deputies allegedly "touched and manipulated students' breasts and genitals" and "inserted fingers inside girls' bras,” the suit claimed. Some of the students’ body parts were allegedly revealed during the search.
The students suffered "fear, embarrassment, stress and humiliation," according to the suit.
The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial to decide damages.