PHIIPPI, W.Va. -- Barbour County Commission president Jedd Schola says the commission hasn't found any evidence to support a lawsuit's allegations that the sheriff sexually assaulted a woman.
Schola says in a statement that the commission plans to deny the allegations. The Inter-Mountain (http://bit.ly/12C2Uzh ) reports that Schola delivered the statement Monday during a County Commission meeting.
"The allegations are serious in nature, and they will be treated as such, but they are just that - allegations," Schola said.
He said the commission will not discuss the lawsuit further and questioned will be referred to its lawyer.
The lawsuit was filed July 18 in U.S. District Court in Elkins against Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins and the commission. It alleges that Hawkins sexually assaulted the woman during a job interview when she was 17 and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.
The complaint lists 14 counts in addition to sexual assault, including unlawful arrest, excessive force, civil conspiracy, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
The woman filed a domestic violence petition against Hawkins last year but later dropped it. She claims Hawkins retaliated by heading an investigation that led to stolen property charges against her that later were dismissed.
Hawkins issued a statement last week denying the allegations. He called the lawsuit a ploy to obtain money.
"No one knows until they live through this the toll it takes on spouses, children and other relatives. A simple task of going to the grocery store can become unbearable. And all of it over false allegations to try and get money," Hawkins said.
He said that he ran for public office to serve citizens in the county.
"I was born and raised here and this is where I wanted to raise my family. In the next few months I will have to re-evaluate that decision and make the decision that best serves my family. In the mean time, I am still in office and still serving the county," he said.
He said that the sheriff's office will continue to operate as usual, although some duties, such as estates, might be delayed as he prepares a defense because the staff is limited.