The Barbour County Commission will publicly acknowledge Monday they've been named as a co-defendant in a federal civil lawsuit recently filed in U.S. District Court in Elkins, county officials said Friday.
An agenda for the commission's regular meeting - which is slated to take place at 5 p.m. at the Barbour County Courthouse in Philippi - lists "Received summons in a civil action from U.S. District Court regarding a lawsuit filed and served" as item No. 3.
The July 18 lawsuit, filed by Brittany Mae Keene, 19, of Moatsville, names the commission and Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins as co-defendants in a 15-count suit claiming Hawkins sexually assaulted Keene and five other women, referenced as Females No. 1 through 5.
Chuck Foley, Barbour County administrator, said Friday he isn't sure if the commission plans to discuss the matter or take any action on it Monday.
"We'll find out," Foley said via telephone. "The purpose is just to put it in the minutes as part of our permanent record."
The commission's attorney, Keith Gamble of the Morgantown law firm Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe, said Barbour County residents who attend shouldn't come expecting a question-and-answer session on the case.
"It's really just going to be pretty much what we've done when the press calls," Gamble told The Inter-Mountain in a telephone interview Friday. "We're just going to explain that yes, there's been a civil suit filed, and all questions and concerns need to go to counsel, so the public who may not read the paper will know the proper channels to go through.
"It's not going to be a Q and A or anything like that," he added. Gamble said he plans to attend Monday's meeting.
Keene's July 18 complaint accuses Hawkins, the Barbour County Commission and/or both of: unlawful arrest; excessive force; civil conspiracy; tort of outrage/intentional infliction of emotional distress; battery; negligent retention and hiring; false imprisonment; negligent training and supervision; assault; deliberate indifference; malicious prosecution; abuse of process; sexual assault; providing alcohol to a minor; and dissemination of a nude photo of a minor.
Earlier this week, Hawkins made several public statements asserting his innocence, utilizing Facebook Monday and on Tuesday issuing an official written statement to area media outlets.
On Wednesday, Hawkins again utilized social media to hint that Keene's legal team had resorted to illegal actions to build their case.
"Well, if there is a good side to any of this, I have received a couple calls from people who were offered money by the investigator to sign false statements," he posted on his Facebook wall. "Hmmmm. Print that on the front page! Anyway, logging off FB for a while, friends, so please don't be offended if I don't return your messages. Be safe. God bless you all!"
Paul Harris, one of Keene's Wheeling-based attorneys, was indicted in May in Harrison County on charges of conspiring to interfere with a witness in a criminal case against a former Shinnston policeman.