West Virginia Record

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Man says WVU tricked him into signing trespassing document

By Kelly Holleran | Oct 13, 2008

MORGANTOWN -- A Monongalia County man has filed suit against the West Virginia University Board of Governors, the college's interim president and its police chief, alleging he was forced to sign a document that would prohibit him from returning to campus or any of its adjacent buildings.

Kenneth Williams also claims a WVU police officer made false accusations about him after he filed a complaint against the officer.

Williams claims he was sitting peacefully in WVU's Mountainlair on Oct. 11, 2007, when officers approached him and asked to search him, then insisted he sign the WVU Department of Public Safety Trespassing form, according to a complaint filed in Monongalia Circuit Court.

The form threatened Williams's arrest if he returned to the campus or any of its adjacent buildings without written permission, the suit states.

Williams claims he signed the form under duress.

Later, he returned to WVU to ask questions about his detention and to file a complaint against the WVU police officer who had detained him at the Mountainlair, according to the complaint.

"In retaliation for the filing of a complaint, the officer added an addendum to Mr. Williams's file which falsely accused Mr. Williams of matters that are defamatory and that were placed in Mr. Williams's file with reckless disregard for the truth," the suit states.

There were a number of false accusations added to the report, said Al Karlin, Williams's attorney.

"The most striking thing was a completely false accusation that he had spent two years in jail on a drug conviction," Karlin said.

But Williams had never been to jail before, Karlin said.

As a result of the detention and retaliation, Williams claims he suffered emotional distress, embarrassment, indignity, humiliation and mental anguish.

The practice and policy of WVU and its police department is to stop, detain and search individuals without a probable cause, to determine who can be on the campus, to bar people from the campus without giving them the opportunity to be heard and to coerce individuals into signing their rights away, according to the complaint.

"There are some bad procedures and policies at the university that need to be replaced," Karlin said.

The policies are a denial of citizens' rights and deprive people of their First, Fourth and 14th Amendment rights, the suit states.

Williams claims the officer filed a complaint against him because Williams exercised his right to complain.

Williams is seeking unspecified damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems proper.

Allan N. Karlin, Jane E. Peak and Sarah E. Wagner of Allan N. Karlin & Associates in Morgantown will be representing him.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 08-C-716

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