Toriseva Law now represents 67 women in impending lawsuits against State Police

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Toriseva Law now represents 67 women in impending lawsuits against State Police

CHARLESTON — Toriseva Law has sent a third notice of forthcoming legal action to the West Virginia State Police regarding hidden cameras that were placed in the women's locker room. Attorney Teresa Toriseva said change has to happen with the State Police. "The culture at the West Virginia State Police Training Academy is toxic and hostile toward female cadets. Dramatic change must come," Toriseva told The West Virginia Record. "This hostility affects female law enforcement officers across West Virginia because all certified police officers must train at the Academy."

Toriseva said the video-taping in the female locker room and the destruction of evidence and cover-up about that video-taping is one egregious example that has affected many.

“There are many more examples of abuses of power and misconduct toward women at the Academy and those details will be coming out in the lawsuits that we will begin filing immediately,” Toriseva said.

Toriseva’s June 16 letter is the latest of three she has sent the attorney general and the State Police regarding the locker room issues.

“Over the last several months, I have compiled evidence and interviewed numerous witnesses about the experience of female law enforcement officers who have visited and attended classes at the academy,” Teresa Toriseva wrote in the June 16 letter. “I have sufficient evidence to proceed against the West Virginia State Police and I intend on doing so.”

Currently, Toriseva’s office represents 67 individuals with potential claims against the State Police.

“Our ongoing investigation shows rampant sexual misconduct, including hidden videotaping, toward female cadets and others, while they attended the Academy,” Toriseva told The West Virginia Record in April. “Much of the conduct is through witness-provided evidence.”

According to the mailed notice, several of these women were subjected to varying levels of physical and emotional abuse and were most likely videotaped with hidden cameras in the locker room.

“All of these women were victims of a civil conspiracy perpetrated by instructors, staff and leadership at the West Virginia State Police Academy,” the letter states. “Accordingly, these women will bring suit seeking all available damages under the law.”

On March 20, Cahill resigned from his position and Gov. Jim Justice named Jack Chambers the interim superintendent.

The State Police has been the subject of criticism and investigation in recent weeks following an anonymous letter making monetary and sexual allegations about the agency and troopers.

In the complaints filed earlier this year, the plaintiffs alleged they attended the WVSP training academy and were secretly and intentionally recorded by a hidden camera or cameras.

Gov. Jim Justice has said the video recordings in the women’s locker room were made in 2015 by a now-deceased trooper and the 2020 destruction of a hard drive that included some of those recordings by three other state troopers.

Justice said the troopers discovered the thumb drive containing the video and that one of them “jerked the thumb drive out, threw it on the floor and started stomping on it.”

Former WVSP Superintendent Jan Cahill also confirmed that “the drive with the footage was discovered and ordered destroyed with no investigation.” He also said he was “troubled it was destroyed.”

The impending plaintiffs accuse the defendants of spoliation of evidence, invasion of privacy, breach of confidentiality, violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act based on gender, violations of the state Constitution for deprivation of rights, privileges and immunities, negligent supervision, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, violations of the West Virginia Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act and negligence.

The women say they have suffered anxiety, humiliation, annoyance, inconvenience, invasion of privacy, emotional distress, pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of ability to enjoy life and other damages.

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