WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Abuse, harassment, sexual misconduct: Those are the latest allegations against the West Virginia State Police.
Wheeling-based attorney Teresa Toriseva sent another 30-day Notice of Forthcoming Legal Action to the state police on behalf of a group of women.
Toriseva said there have been new developments in her investigation that go beyond hidden cameras.
“It is an environment at the State Police Academy that’s downright hostile to women,” Toriseva said.
A group of women have already come forward wanting to know if they were filmed while using the locker room at the West Virginia State Police Academy.
Now Toriseva said many of those women have additional allegations that are much worse.
“We’re finding and getting reports of sexual misconduct, including reports of improper sexual relationships with instructors,” Toriseva said. “We’re getting reports of physical assaults.”
This new notice of legal action represents 42 women including 10 minors who attended the Junior Trooper Academy and alleges a civil conspiracy.
“Evidence of a cover-up, of fraud, not letting this become public, so to speak to oversimplify it and that is a problem too,” Toriseva said.
Toriseva feels the hidden cameras were part of a bigger problem.
As her team’s investigation into those claims progressed many women came forward and recounted other incidents of abuse.
“So many of the things that we’re uncovering are stories that are being heard for the first time because there was a fear of reporting and there was also a fear of losing your entire career if you reported,” Toriseva said.
West Virginia State Police are under multiple investigations, so 12 News’s sister station, WOWK, in Charleston, asked West Virginia State Police Media Spokesperson Maj. Jim Mitchell about the department’s progress.
“We certainly understand that the investigations are an item of interest of many people, as they are to us,” Mitchell said. “The investigations are still ongoing, that being the case you know I can’t comment on those. There’s some possible civil litigation that’s ongoing and so I can’t comment on that either. As soon as we can get to the conclusion of these investigations we’re looking forward to being able to talk about them.”
As for this group of women, they want their own investigation.
“This is not something that the State Police can deal with internally,” Toriseva said. “There needs to be an outside, independent, federal investigation by new players, new actors and we really need to know what the facts and the truth were.”
Toriseva called the current environment at the West Virginia State Police Academy hostile and said it needs to change into a place where women are safe.