Randy Yohe Published

Alleged Rapes Part Of State Police Misconduct Investigation

Large police sign with building in background
West Virginia State Police Academy in Dunbar.
Randy Yohe/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In a Wednesday administration media briefing, Gov. Jim Justice talked about alleged rapes by a state trooper that are now under federal investigation. 

Charleston Attorney Dante DiTrapino sent a notice to sue letter to the state on his client’s behalf. The law requires a 30-day notice before bringing a civil suit on a government entity. The letter details allegations that in December 2021, Trooper Michael J. Miller drugged, kidnapped and raped an unnamed woman. 

“She is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and is in intense treatment and counseling in connection with the physical, mental, emotional and psychological injuries visited upon her by Miller,” the letter states.

The letter notes the FBI is aware of Miller’s alleged acts.

“She woke up naked in her bed, with blood, urine and feces all over her,” the letter continues. “Her earrings were ripped out of her ears, her hair was pulled out, her teeth were damaged, and she had been raped vaginally and sodomized with some instrument. This is all confirmed by the rape unit at the emergency department of CAMC’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital.”  

In the briefing, Justice offered few details about this particular ongoing investigation.     

“I think it’s primarily one person, maybe multiple rapes,” Justice said. “The FBI has the investigation at this point in time. I do believe it’s one person.”

A check of the state’s public database shows a Michael J. Miller with the West Virginia State Police earned $74,905 in 2022, the year after the alleged incident.

In the briefing, acting State Police Superintendent Jack Chambers said two senior troopers have been reassigned.

Former Chief of Staff Services at State Police headquarters Major Shallon Oglesby will now serve as a first lieutenant in procurement rather than the previous rank of major. Former Major James Findley will also now serve as a first lieutenant.

Chambers said he has promoted Jim Mitchell to a chief of staff role highlighting media relations.

“I do feel like the decision with Jim Mitchell will be well accepted,” Chambers said. “He’s an honest person and a very good speaker. He’ll be dealing with all the media outlets.” 

Chamber said no trooper has been fired as of yet. He said the investigation into an alleged theft of cash by a senior trooper at the Mardi Gras Casino was nearing completion.  

Wheeling attorney Teresa Toriseva has filed a letter of intent to sue on behalf of several women worried that their images may have been caught on a camera that was placed in the State Police Academy women’s locker room.

Justice said Chambers needs more time to further investigate a hidden camera incident that may or may not include multiple victims.

“For all we knew 10 days ago, there was a thumb drive,“ Justice said. “There was a videotape made. We don’t know how many people have been filmed. You know, it was told and represented to us that only one person had been filmed. I don’t like that, but I can’t dispute that until we get to the bottom of an investigation.” 

Justice continues to say the bodycam video he viewed regarding an investigation into a person’s death during a confrontation with troopers on I-81 near Martinsburg was “very concerning.”

“You’ve got a trooper in the dark with somebody walking down the interstate, which they shouldn’t be there at all,” Justice said. “Somebody’s walking down the interstate and a trooper is in the dark with traffic flying by him at 80 miles an hour. Granted, these people are supposed to be trained to be able to handle all this.”

Justice said he will be glad to release the bodycam footage upon a prosecutor’s OK in this continuing State Police investigation.