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Women Serve Notice To Sue Over State Police Hidden Camera Incident

A close up of a video camera lens.Borislav15/Adobe Stock

Updated on Friday, March 24, 2023 at 3:20 p.m.

Women in law enforcement, who fear they may have been videotaped on a hidden shower room camera, have filed a legal notice to sue the state.

Wheeling Trial Attorney Teresa Toriseva said she represents a growing number of women who have trained at the Kanawha County State Police Academy – the site of multiple ongoing investigations of alleged trooper wrongdoing. 

“Every female police officer, whether a city police officer, a county deputy, a state trooper all would have had to train and be certified at the West Virginia State Police Academy,” Toriseva said. “We now have public admission that these tapes occurred and that tapings were made in the locker room. I represent a growing group of women, troopers, family members, city police officers and county police officers now from all over the state of West Virginia that are seeking answers that are going to be very, very difficult to establish.”

A Department of Homeland Security investigation revealed a senior state trooper placed a hidden video camera in the women’s locker room shower at the State Police Academy for an unknown period of time, that the trooper who set the camera died before the camera discovery and that other troopers destroyed evidence – a thumb drive containing video from the camera. 

Toriseva said she is looking at the possibility of secret videotaping in multiple years both before and after the guilty troopers death and the camera discovery.

“We’re looking at the time period of the entire time he served or worked at the academy, and therefore clearly had unfettered access to be able to put a secret videotape in the women’s locker room,” Toriseva said, “We’re also looking at the time period from 2016 forward until about 2020 when former Colonel Jan Cahill with the state police claims he first found out.There have been public statements that he found out some many years later, so we have questions about whether the video could have been up the entire time.”

Along with a notice of forthcoming legal action sent to Interim State Police Superintendent Jack Chambers and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Toriseva has filed a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request to Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy for reports and information related to the videotapes.

Gov. Jim Justice and Chambers have both said this is still an open and active investigation, and have promised transparency. Toriseva said her three clients so far, with more likely to come, appreciate the state’s due diligence.

“My clients and I are listening to every word being spoken by the governor in the media, and by now Acting Superintendent Chambers and others,” Toriseva said. “I think that helps everybody, because to leave it unknown, actually creates more litigation and more problems. These women now who might have been videotaped, given the time period, are based on real logic, not assertions by someone who oversaw or was involved in knowing about, not handling properly, the destruction of evidence.” 

Toriseva believes there are other attorneys throughout the state who may be preparing cases with similar clients. 

WVPB has reached out to the offices of Morrisey, Justice and Chambers for comment.

Morrisey’s office cited code 55-17-3(a)(1) that details the process for suing the state, and said it would keep the notice on file in the event a lawsuit is subsequently filed, but had no further comment.

In response to our request for comment, a letter from Interim State Police Superintendent Jack Chambers offered deepest apologies for any female victimized by the hidden camera. He said as part of the investigation they are developing a timeline and working to identify all potential victims who will be offered counseling and therapy services.

Justice did not respond before publication of this story.