Criminal Justice

Georgia sheriff is indicted for warrantless search of hundreds of students in high school lockdown

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A south Georgia sheriff and two deputies have been indicted in connection with a warrantless search of nearly 800 high school students in a drug sweep that produced no drugs and no arrests.

Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby was charged Oct. 3 with false imprisonment, violation of oath of office and misdemeanor sexual battery, report the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Washington Post. Two deputies were also charged with violation of oath of office, and one of them also faces a misdemeanor sexual battery charge.

Hobby and the deputies were charged for the April 14 search during a four-hour lockdown at Worth County High School, according to the newspapers. Forty officers participated in the search, demanding students’ cellphones and ordering students up against walls.

Nine students who filed a class action lawsuit over the incident said deputies had groped them during searches.

District Attorney Paul Bowden plans to send the indictment to Gov. Nathan Deal, who has the authority to suspend sheriffs. The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council has also moved to suspend Hobby’s law enforcement certification.

Hobby said in a statement released four days after the search that he had received complaints about illegal drugs at the school in the weeks leading up to the search.

A lawyer for the sheriff, Norman Crowe Jr., said the sheriff was at the school for the search but didn’t personally participate.

“The sheriff’s position is that he’s not guilty,” Crowe told the Journal-Constitution. “He’s committed no crime.”

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