Woman allegedly raped by deputy puts civil case on hold

MARLINTON – A Pocahontas County woman has agreed to put a civil rights suit against one of her alleged rapists on hold until the conclusion of a related criminal case.

In a letter dated July 5, Joanna I. Tabit, attorney for Pocahontas Sheriff David Jonese asked Judge James C. Rowe to postpone a July 17 scheduling conference in Teressa Schoolcraft’s lawsuit against Jonese, former Deputy Sheriff Bradley C. Totten and the Pocahontas County Commission.

In her letter, Tabit said she, Roger D. Forman, Daniel T. Lattanzi and Tom Rist, attorneys for Schoolcraft, and John C. MacCorkle, attorney for the Commission, agreed to a protective order limiting discovery, and entering a stay in the suit out of respect for Totten’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the pending criminal charges against him.

Records show Rowe granted Tabit’s request on July 16.

In her suit, Schoolcraft, 27 and of Buckeye alleged Totten, 40, of taking advantage of her addiction to drugs by making her a confidential informant three years ago. Making her a confidential informant, Schoolcraft alleges, was merely a ruse for Totten to use her for his sexual gratification a year later.

According to the suit, Totten arrested Schoolcraft on April 12, 2009, for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. Following a night at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver, Schoolcraft was released on bond the next day.

Four days later, Schoolcraft was visiting an unnamed person on home confinement. Other people were at the residence using drugs.

At an unspecified time, a home confinement officer visited the residence and later contacted Totten about Schoolcraft’s presence. According to the suit, she was subsequently arrested and taken to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in Belington.

Records show later that month she pleaded guilty “to certain charges,” and released on probation to the Day Report Center.

The next month, Schoolcraft alleges Totten, who was then head of the county drug task force, and Jonese asked her to be an informant. If she agreed to assist them with controlled buys, Schoolcraft said Totten and Jonese agreed they “would not pursue certain charges.”

In May and June, Schoolcraft says she unsuccessfully attempted two buys, and returned the money to Totten. Despite her reluctance to work undercover, Schoolcraft says she felt “pressed to help” as Totten “repeatedly asked her to assist him.”

According to the suit, Schoolcraft’s bond was revoked on June 9, 2009, following her arrest on a charge of petit larceny for stealing a pair of handcuffs while cleaning the attic at the county courthouse. She maintains the handcuffs were not stolen, but given to her by Totten.

Following her bond revocation, Schoolcraft was returned to jail where she remained incarcerated until Nov. 6, 2009. During that time she was indicted on charges related to selling Suboxone the previous February.

Upon release from jail, Schoolcraft’s bond was reinstated, and she was placed on home confinement. Records shows as part of guilty plea, Schoolcraft on March 19, 2010, was ordered to one year with the Day Report Center, and two years probation.

After reporting to the Day Report Center, Schoolcraft alleges Totten began making inappropriate comments about her including “Your butt looks good in those jeans,” and “Can I touch your butt?” When Totten threatened to return her to jail if she refused to again be his informant, Schoolcraft says she “felt she had no choice but to help him.”

According to the suit, on May 22, 2010, Schoolcraft called Totten to discuss a tip she received about a shipment of illegal drugs expected to arrive in Pocahontas County. After receiving the call, she says Totten told her to meet him outside her home after midnight.

Believing she was meeting him to discuss her role in making a controlled buy, Schoolcraft says she met Totten as instructed. However, after arriving while in uniform and driving a cruiser, Schoolcraft alleges Totten took her to the first picnic area on the Greenbrier Trial across the Buckeye Bridge where “he raped her against her will.”

In her suit, Schoolcraft alleged she was not Totten’s first victim. She pointed to an indictment the grand jury returned against him on April 3 accusing him of “engag(ing) in criminal sexual behavior with at least four other females over an 11-year period.”

According to court records, Totten was indicted on one count first-degree sexual abuse, one count second-degree sexual abuse, three counts third-degree sexual abuse, six counts sexual abuse by a custodian and one count attempted first-degree sexual abuse stemming from sexual encounters that occurred between May 1999 and April 2010. In addition to Schoolcraft, the indictment alleges Totten had sex with four other women who at the time were minors.

In August, the grand jury again indicted Totten on 47 more sex-related charges. The indictment alleges between October 1992 and July 2009, Totten had sex with three other women, including two who where under 16-years-old at the time.

Currently, Totten is free on $50,000 bond. A trial on the charges is scheduled for later this month.

In her lawsuit, Schoolcraft accuses not only Totten of battery, false arrest, assault and abuse of process, but also Jonese and the Commission of violating the state Human Rights Act and negligent training, retention supervision and discipline. In West Virginia, the county commissions are co-employers of deputy sheriffs.

As a result of Totten’s conduct, Schoolcraft alleges she’s suffered “mental distress, fear, anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment.” She seeks unspecified damages, attorneys fees and court costs.

In addition to Totten, Schoolcraft has accused Jarrell Lee Clifton II, a former assistant prosecutor, of sexually assaulting her. The four-count indictment alleges Clifton, who worked as a deputy sheriff from 1999 until 2002 before leaving to pursue a law degree, forced Schoolcraft to perform oral sex on him around the same time Totten allegedly raped her.

The place where the alleged encounter occurred is not stated in either the indictment or court records.

During a pre-trial conference Oct. 27, Senior Status Randolph Circuit Judge John Henning -- who was appointed to the case after Rowe, and Judge Joseph C. Pomponio, Jr. recused themselves -- granted a joint motion by Special Prosecutor Brian Parsons, and R. Brandon Johnson, Clifton’s co-counsel, to postpone his trial originally scheduled for Nov. 1 until next month. Henning granted the motion and re-scheduled the trial for Dec. 17.

Currently, Clifton is free on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

Pocahontas Circuit Court, case numbers 12-C-25 (Schoolcraft civil), 12-F-11 (Totten criminal I), 12-F –20 (Clifton criminal) and 12-F-21 (Totten criminal II)

More Stories