West Virginia Record

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Toler files suit against State and Supreme Court

By Ann Knef | Sep 18, 2006

William "Tommy" Toler

WAYNE COUNTY -- Suspended Wayne County Magistrate William Thomas "Tommy" Toler is suing the state of West Virginia and the West Virginia Supeme Court of Appeals for not making contributions to his retirement and disability insurance plans and for exceeding the scope of their authority under Judicial Disciplinary Rules.

Toler was indicted by a Wayne County grand jury July 7, 2004, on sexual abuse and bribery charges. He was acquitted by a Wayne County jury in February 2005, but suspended for four years by the Supreme Court effective in July 2005.

According to a lawsuit filed Aug. 17 in Wayne County Circuit Court, Toler claims he suffered aggravations of pre-existing conditions and stress "such that the Plaintiff was unable to work." He was awarded disability on June 8, the suit says.

"The Defendant, the State of West Virginia and the West Virginia Supreme Court failed, during the time period of his suspension to make the required contributions to his retirement as per the Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure 4.12," the lawsuit says.

Toler is represented by Donald R. Jarrell of Wayne.

According to the suit, Toler claims he has lost income as well as a "tremendous" earning capacity, lost retirement benefits, incurred medical bills and injuries and will continue to incur medical bills in the future.

"Further, the Plaintiff has undergone pain and suffering, annoyance, aggravation, diminishment of reputation in the community and extreme mental and physical suffering," the suit says.

Toler claims his suspension, recommended by the Judicial Hearing Board and adopted by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, was "arbitrary and capricious."

"Such actions of the State of West Virginia and the West Virginia Supreme Court were ultravires and beyond the powers of their authority as set forth in their own Judicial Disciplinary Rules and further clearly violate the Plaintiff's established Constitutional and Statutory Rights which a reasonable person would have done," the suit says.

Toler claims his suspension exceeds the time permitted under the Judicial Disciplinary Rules. He also claims the Court fined him more than allowed and that his suspension exceeded his term of office "which is tantamount to him being ineligible to run for office," the suit says.

Toler's suspension -- until July 2009 -- extends beyond Dec. 31, 2008, which is when his current term ends. His seat will be up for election in November 2008.

He also claims the Judicial Discliplinary Hearing was barred by a statute of limitations.

In the second count of the suit, Toler claims the Supreme Court is negligent for requiring him to "be in situations that caused him extreme physical and emotional harm, stress, humiliation, aggravation, annoyance and damage to his reputation in the community," and for failing to provide support staff "such that the Plaintiff was required to meet with people alone in the middle of the night."

Toler had been accused of demanding sexual favors from women whose cases were before him while he was performing his official duties as magistrate at the Wayne County Courthouse.

Despite the charges that were against him at the time, Toler was re-elected in November 2004 to a four-year term.

The Supreme Court did grant Toler nearly a year of back pay, but they ordered him to pay $20,000 in fines and an additional undetermined amount for the cost of the proceedings.

The state Judicial Hearing Board recommended sanctions against Toler.

In July 2005, four women testified before the state Judicial Hearing Board.

The first woman, a Wayne County corrections officer, said that while she and Toler were alone in the magistrate's office, Toler put his hand and his finger on her breasts before asking if he could "go downtown on her." The woman took that as a solicitation for oral sex.

A second woman testified that Toler told her, while she and her husband were going through divorce proceedings, that he would help her get a lawyer and make sure her husband paid dearly. Then, the witness said, Toler grabbed her blouse and pulled it along with her bra, exposing her breasts. She said Toler also grabbed her between her legs and told her he wanted to have sex with her.

All of this occurred, the woman testified, minutes after Toler had awarded the couple's home to the husband and gave the woman four hours to remove her belongings.

A third woman testified that while she was discussing a case with Toler, he grabbed her breasts with both hands before she told him to stop. The woman said Toler then laughed before he tried that again. She then left his office.

A fourth woman said she went to Toler to fill out a domestic violence petition after a fight with her boyfriend. She said Toler asked her if she liked sex and if she was any good at performing oral sex. When the woman left the office, Toler followed her onto the elevator and kissed her on the mouth. He then grabbed her hands and told her he wanted to show her something. Then, the woman said, Toler forced her hands between his legs, held her hands to his crotch and asked if she liked his penis. She then pulled away and left the building.

On July 7, 2004, a Wayne County grand jury indicted Toler on eight felony counts of sexual abuse, a count of demanding a bribe and a misdemeanor count of indecent exposure.

After his acquittal in February 2005, Toler filed a motion with the Supreme Court seeking to be reinstated as a magistrate with back pay.

Toler has denied the allegations.

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Organizations in this Story

State of West VirginiaWest Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals