CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Another lawsuit against the West Virginia State Police could be coming on behalf of another group of women who used the women’s locker room at the West Virginia State Police Academy.
Winfield Attorney David Moye says he has sent a notice of intent to bring a lawsuit to West Virginia Attorney Patrick Morrisey and WVSP Superintendent Colonel Jack Chambers. He says the pending lawsuit would be filed on behalf of five female plaintiffs who have retained him and attorney Scott Summers to represent them.
According to Moye, the potential plaintiffs say they were participating in training at the WVSP Academy at the time a recording device was placed in the women’s locker room.
“You know they feel very betrayed by the academy, by the state police,” Moye said. “Not only for that being permitted to happen, but the biggest thing is the action they took after they discovered it, that they state police destroyed that evidence.”
The incident happened sometime before March of 2016, but it wasn’t discovered until after the person who allegedly hid the camera died. According to Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV), the three troopers who found the camera destroyed a thumb drive that allegedly had the images from the locker room on them.
“The burden is on the state police now to show that these women are not on it because they had the evidence and they had the proof and they elected to do this destruction consciously,” Moye said. “I think at this point they need to show that the women were not on it.”
Moye says the lawsuits for the plaintiffs will be filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court thirty days after the letter of intent is received. He adds that the plaintiffs will “request an award of any and all damages available to them under the law.”
“The unknown a lot of times is more devastating than actually knowing what happened because as time has passed they were not aware of it and it’s affecting all of them defitnley,” he said. “It definitely affecting all of them because they don’t know who looked at it.”
This is not the first letter of intent to file a lawsuit against the WVSP regarding the hidden recording device. The first letter of intent was filed in late March by Wheeling-based trial lawyer Teresa Toriseva, who is representing approximately a dozen women who came forward saying they are outraged about the camera, invasion of privacy and the destruction of evidence.
Toriseva also filed a Notice of Forthcoming Legal Action to WVSP in early April on behalf of three women who say they attended West Virginia Junior Trooper programs during the time the hidden camera was in place at the academy while they were between the ages of 14 and 17.
After the State Police received the first notice of the potential lawsuit, the new superintendent of the West Virginia State Police Colonel Jack Chambers released an apology letter to those women who may have been victimized and said an investigation will be launched to develop a timeline to identify all of the potential victims. He also said counseling and therapy services will be made available.
An investigation into WVSP started after a five-page anonymous letter was sent to Governor Jim Justice (R-WV), Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and a host of state lawmakers.
The letter outlined alleged misconduct at the organization including sexual assaults, thefts, and damage to state-owned property in addition to a hidden camera in the women’s locker room.
The whistleblower who sent the five-page letter came forward earlier this month, identifying himself as Cpl. Joseph Comer. He is also represented by Moye due to accusations of domestic battery and felony strangulation against him which were filed the day before he was set to have a grievance hearing against the WVSP. Moye called those charges “retaliatory in nature” due to Comer bringing attention to misconduct from the top ranks of the department.