An empty locker room

Entire State Police Department Under Investigation for Hidden Camera in Women’s Locker Room

It’s a nearly universal truth that law enforcement agencies and officers are often corrupt. That statement won’t shock those in this corner of the internet. But the extent to which the West Virginia State Police Department has screwed the pooch and is now facing its own legal comeuppance may shock you very much. 

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At the forefront of a plethora of misconduct and abuse accusations—which include claims of officers committing rape, kidnapping, theft, and more—is a developing lawsuit with over 70 female plaintiffs. These women and girls say they have been the victims of “a toxic and hostile environment” created by the WV State Police, according to a notice of legal action penned by Teresa Toriseva, the attorney representing the women in their lawsuit.

According to whistleblower Cpl. Joseph Comer, who sent letters informing state officials of the misconduct earlier this year, at least one hidden camera had been placed inside the women’s locker room at the State Police Academy, where it was operated by other officers as early as 1994, all the way until 2020. During that time, the locker room was not only used by adult women on or associated with the police force, but also by minors between the ages of 14 and 17 who were enrolled in the state police’s Junior Trooper academy. Comer initially sent the letter anonymously to multiple state legislators, including governor Jim Justice, and attorney general Patrick Morrisey. 

Back in March, Governor Justice delivered a public address wherein he denounced the alleged wrongdoings in the police department and ordered a comprehensive investigation. In that speech, Justice revealed he had new knowledge of “law enforcement officers destroying evidence,” saying that the officer who originally planted the illegal and pervy camera had already died. But when three other troopers found the thumb drive and “from that found the video,” at least one of them “immediately jerked the thumb drive out, threw it to the floor, and started stomping on it.” 

There have been leadership changes at the WV Police while the investigations are ongoing, but some people say they’re blaming the deceased officer, while some believe others are also at fault. According to court documents, a current female employee is known to have been videotaped. Toriseva is optimistic the thumb drive was not the only way to give damning evidence of that abuse. “I think they destroyed a jump drive, which is like a photocopy of a piece of paper,” Toriseva told WRTF.com after filing the lawsuit last week. “I believe that the women that we represent all want answers, extensive proof, so there needs to be a forensic analysis of their electronic data going back as far back as forensic analysts can go, decades.”

(featured image: Getty Images)


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Author
Cammy Pedroja
Author and independent journalist since 2015. Frequent contributor of news and commentary on social justice, politics, culture, and lifestyle to publications including The Mary Sue, Newsweek, Business Insider, Slate, Women, USA Today, and Huffington Post. Lover of forests, poetry, books, champagne, and trashy TV.