Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued an executive order Monday to suspend a sheriff whose deputies are accused of groping high school girls during a school-wide drug search this year.
Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby's suspension took effect immediately and will be enforced pending the outcome of his criminal case, or the expiration of his term.
Hobby faces charges of violation of oath by a public officer, two counts of false imprisonment and one count of sexual battery after he told his deputies to do a drug sweep of Worth County High School, including body pat downs of underage students, without a warrant or cause in April.
Hobby and several deputies were indicted on the charges by a south Georgia grand jury last month.
Hobby has denied any criminal wrongdoing.
In addition to criminal charges, Hobby and his administration face a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the students they allegedly assaulted.
According to the lawsuit, Hobby's deputies put all 900 students at Worth County High School on lockdown in response to a tip that 13 students had drugs. Deputies searched the students and failed to find any drugs or paraphernalia.
During the search, the lawsuit says the deputies "touched and manipulated" students.