Former deputy accused of raping prisoner named in civil suit

By Lawrence Smith | Sep 22, 2011

ELKINS – Despite his recent acquittal, a former Grant County sheriff's deputy again will have to answer allegations he raped a prisoner while in his custody.

Timothy and Joyce Riggleman along with their son, Dylan, 21, filed a four-count civil rights suit against Tony D. Cooper in U.S. District Court. In their complaint filed Aug. 22, the Riggleman's allege Cooper sexually assaulted Dylan after stopping and arresting him on a charge of DUI last June.

According to their suit, Cooper, while on duty as a sheriff's deputy, arrested Dylan about 10 p.m. on June 2, 2010, for DUI of a controlled substance. The suit does not specify the substance or where in Grant County the arrest took place.

Nevertheless, Cooper about 30 minutes later, processed, and interviewed Dylan at the Grant County Annex in Petersburg. About 12:18 a.m. on June 3, Cooper took Dylan to Grant Memorial Hospital to obtain a urine sample.

According to the suit, Cooper departed GMH 40 minutes later with Dylan for the Potomac Highlands Regional Jail in Augusta. At a time not specified, Cooper pulled his cruiser off on a gravel lot along U.S. 50 in southern Hampshire County.

After he stopped, Cooper took Dylan out of the cruiser, and instructed him to go behind two tractor trailer rigs and urinate in a cup. During this time, the suit alleges Cooper was standing behind Dylan.

When Dylan said he was unable to urinate in the cup, Cooper told him it would help if he masturbated. According to the suit, when Dylan turned around he found Cooper with "his penis exposed and was masturbating."

Shortly thereafter, Dylan alleges Cooper not only forced him to perform oral sex, but also forcefully sodomized him. Though no time is given as to how long they stopped at the gravel lot, the suit maintains Cooper eventually arrived at the regional jail with Dylan at 2:35 a.m.

According to the Cumberland, Md. Times-News, Cooper, 33, a four-year veteran of the Grant County Sheriff's Department, was placed on administrative leave on July 29, 2010, after Dylan lodged a complaint against him with the West Virginia State Police. In October, both Cooper was fired and the DUI charge against Dylan was dismissed.

According to the Hampshire Circuit Clerk's Office, Cooper was indicted in January on two counts of sexual assault in the second degree. After deliberating for an hour, a jury on July 13, 2010, found Cooper not guilty on both counts.

Along with those for civil rights violations, the Rigglemans make claims for assault and battery, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligent hiring, retention, investigation and discipline. Along with Cooper, former Grant County Sheriff Art Puffenbarger is named as a co-defendant in the suit.

Puffenbarger, who was first elected in 2004, was defeated for re-election the 2008 Republican primary by Emory "Bill" Feaster Jr.

The Rigglemans seek unspecified damages, attorney fees and court costs. They are represented by Keyser attorney Daniel R. James.

The case is assigned to Judge John Preston Bailey.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, case number 11-cv-63 (Riggleman civil rights); Hampshire Circuit Court, case number 11-F-9 (Cooper criminal); Grant Magistrate Court, case number 10-M-316 (Riggleman criminal)

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