Federal Judge Rules Sheriff Must Participate In ‘Sex Ring’ Lawsuit Deposition (With Video)

July 4, 2019

[UPDATED} A federal judge Wednesday afternoon denied a motion by Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan not to be deposed in a federal lawsuit that alleges he was involved in a sex ring and then took steps to halt an internal affairs investigation.

Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth  M. Timothy’s order means Morgan will be required to attend a deposition Friday afternoon at 1:00.

Leah and Doug Manning were convicted in state court for sexual activities that included their own underage twin daughters. Escambia County deputy Walter Thomas was also convicted. All three were sentenced to 25 years or more in prison.

Now legal age adults, the twin daughters are suing Morgan. The lawsuits allege Morgan “tolerated the sexual activities” with deputies and other ECSO employees “because of his friendship and personal relationship with mother (Leah Manning).”

Morgan is denying the allegations, and Wednesday afternoon held joint press conference and meeting with all personnel not on active duty protecting the public.

It is that press conference that led in part to the federal judge’s order. (Watch the entire press conference below.)

“A final point bears mention. At approximately 1:15 p.m., on July 3, 2019, Defendant Morgan held a press conference during which he addressed this case, and in particular some of the sensitive matters discussed in the instant filings. His willingness to voluntarily appear and publically answer questions (identical or similar to those Plaintiff’s counsel wishes to ask of him at his deposition) undermines any claim that his deposition testimony should be sealed. It likewise undermines his claim that as a high ranking public official he should not be compelled to testify, as he voluntarily appeared on air and voluntarily answered questions about this case posed to him by the media,” the judge wrote in her order.

Morgan’s attorneys had argued that he should not required to give a deposition in the lawsuits.

“Plaintiffs have failed to establish any reason why the deposition of the Sheriff is required, except for the purpose of a fishing expedition for irrelevant information. All of their claims against the Sheriff are in his official capacity regarding the policies and practices of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. Such information can be obtained through other discovery and/or the depositions of lesser ranking officials,” court filings say.

Leah Manning claimed, according to a court document, that she had sex with Morgan on about five occasions, and that there is video that shows a half-naked Morgan in a hotel bed. She also claims the family dog was named “David” after the sheriff.

Morgan said he has never had contact with the Mannings and he had no supervision or influence on the investigation. The case was not directly investigated by the ECSO; it was handled by the State Attorney’s Office.

“I haven’t met someone, how can I have sex with them?” the sheriff said Wednesday. He also denied the video claim, and denied that he ever had any contact with the Mannings. The alleged video has not been made available.

During the investigation, phone numbers of a number of deputies were found in Leah Manning’s phone, including a number for Morgan.

Morgan said Thursday that the number in the Manning’s phone was his official cell number, not his personal cell or a landline. He said the investigation revealed that none of these numbers had contact with Manning’s phone.

“This whole case is fueled by rumors and innuendos and Facebook postings,” the sheriff said, “where a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.”


35 Responses to “Federal Judge Rules Sheriff Must Participate In ‘Sex Ring’ Lawsuit Deposition (With Video)”

  1. Tabby on July 7th, 2019 11:15 am

    @Anne 1 of 2
    Or maybe, just maybe, since he didn’t want to run and said he was going to, he did so to be able to influence the evidence, the investigation, the outcome. This case was from his election. You are aware this lawsuit was filed in 2017. Just because you haven’t heard about it already doesn’t mean their trying to hatch a plan to ruin him. Many neighbors of the Mannings will tell you their were up to four ECSO vehicles at the residence on a daily basis. One thing is certain. Thelbert is going to have all the tv cameras he can stand. Just how he likes it.

  2. Anne on July 7th, 2019 7:58 am

    Mr. Morgan’s face was absolutely shining with perspiration during his voluntary press conference.
    It was curious too to see how quickly he jumped at the man from a local television station who asked a basic question.
    Mr. Morgan if you are not involved in giving permission (by not halting and investigating) the alleged activities of your deputies then why aren’t you more cooperative with the Judge and legal process?
    Our guess is those phones have had any and all data erased.
    Sad times, be up front and transparent and prove your innocence, Sir.

  3. Freada on July 5th, 2019 10:41 pm

    Wow look at all the sick people blaming the girls. I know a women who has PTSD from going through somthing similar but refused to speak up and never will. And it’s a shame. People are sick these was teenagers and why can they not tell their story now. They are adults now. I’m pray for their safety and outcome but just from watching someone suffer from trying to talk over 30 years ago. I pray y’all girls got yalls stuff together and your lawyer doesn’t scare. Good luck I pray y’all get peace.

  4. Stumpknocker on July 5th, 2019 11:50 am

    @Paul you do realize that when all this came to light these girls were only 15 years old, we have no idea what either have been through, so let the system work and see what happens. I don’t believe this is a witch hunt. If it was me I’d want my vice heard and to clear my name. Everyone in this law suit will have to give a deposition, why would he not want to, think about that. I don’t believe he had sex with the children, but I think this law suit is more about him having knowledge of what others were doing and took no action to stop it nor held anyone accountable.

  5. M in Bratt on July 5th, 2019 10:37 am

    From one that owned and lived in the house next door to the Manning’s when all this was going on, There was a constant parade of Sheriff’s cars in and out of that house, sometimes three at a time for years. If nothing else, this points to a total lack of supervision on the part of Hollywood Morgan and his staff.

  6. paul on July 5th, 2019 9:39 am

    The daughters, now grown adults – how long did they mull it all over before this was brought public? had to get you their stories straight and ducks in a row before pulling the trigger on the lawsuit? and of course facebook frenzy – the dirty laundry hamper of social media – also don’t forget the lawyers counting the $$$ signs – lastly the hypocritical media outlets with their own agenda – THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN!!!

  7. Dave on July 5th, 2019 8:34 am

    Let the legal system do its job for whom we put into office to do so
    These tabloid article’s do not promote Justice

  8. Gman on July 5th, 2019 6:30 am

    If I remember correctly former President Clinton didn’t have sex with that woman either.

  9. john on July 5th, 2019 5:56 am

    You can tell a lot about a person by their “walk”. No matter what else anyone has to say.

  10. Stumpknocker on July 4th, 2019 11:24 pm

    Remember all the evidence came through the SO first, I would think he’d want his turn to complete a deposition, funny how he ain’t searching for that spotlight now . Also from what I understand is that the investigation was steered away from certain individuals, we shall see.

  11. Linda Jones on July 4th, 2019 10:54 pm

    The good ole boys have been out to get David Morgan after he won his first election.
    Sounds like the democrats after President Trump!

  12. Walnut Hill on July 4th, 2019 8:42 pm

    It’s a hateful smear campaign.

  13. anne 1of2 on July 4th, 2019 8:35 pm

    The sheriff didn’t want to run for a third term. I figured he had another career in mind. Looks like someone didn’t want him to be able to move on. So many are so jealous of him and some women coming out of the woodwork seems it seems to be the way to ruin a mans plans these days. It also looks like this worthless mother wants to ruin the sheriff. I wish the best future for he and his wife. Stay strong.

  14. retired on July 4th, 2019 6:14 pm


  15. JOHN on July 4th, 2019 6:12 pm

    Morgan has been in office for a decade.

  16. Marion on July 4th, 2019 3:49 pm


  17. Bewildered on July 4th, 2019 3:10 pm

    One thing is for sure: the incarcerated parents cannot appeal their 25 year sentence! Their own daughter made sure of that! What a messed up crew!

  18. BJ on July 4th, 2019 2:20 pm

    Not just about the girls, their mother has made accusations. But why would the mother not make them during her trial to get a better deal, especially if she has a photo. That part really makes no sense. It hit the girls hard that one of the deputies was not convicted. Why believe the girls about one, and not the other? Hopefully the truth will come out.

  19. we will see - maybe on July 4th, 2019 1:51 pm

    The question remains to be seen………(or not) is there a video??

    IF there is a video someone got serious problems and I doubt it can be explained.

    IF there is not a video this will be written off as a cheap legal ploy to destroy a politician.

  20. poetic justice on July 4th, 2019 1:42 pm

    In the words of Sheriff Morgan himself, “it’s a real humdinger.”

  21. Bob C. on July 4th, 2019 12:29 pm

    No opinion on the guilt or innocence and don’t know about the parents, kids, cops involved.

    Planning to listen to what the media puts out and am looking forward to the depositions to be made this week. After that the attorney and judges will decide if there is merit to take this forward to a jury trial. Since no minors are now involved the courtroom should be open for casual observers to go and listen to our wonderful judicial process.

    Hopefully, at the end of the process the Truth will be Known and an appropriate outcome will be determined.

  22. Hawghead on July 4th, 2019 12:27 pm

    It would seem to me that all of this would have came out in the initial investigation. Seems fishy to me that someone wants payback.

  23. Gman on July 4th, 2019 12:03 pm

    Guess that 3rd term was a stupid idea…..

  24. Okay on July 4th, 2019 11:08 am

    The investigation from the State turned up hundreds of thousands of photos related to the case involving the Mannings. If a photo of Morgan half naked in a hotel existed, I think it would have been discovered during the investigation. Not saying it does not exist, but I would need to see it to believe it.

    One of the victims in the case begged for lessor consequences for their mother. Claiming that their mother was a victim too. But the mother stood trial and said that she was to blame not anyone else. Somehow I think their mother is still abusing them from behind bars and encouraging them to get revenge.

  25. Marshall Brinson on July 4th, 2019 9:52 am

    Well Good Grief…

    I think, maybe, the question should be…

    Can someone like David Morgan be believed?

  26. Bewildered on July 4th, 2019 9:37 am

    A “Trump – Stormy Daniels” mess that will hang around until election time. Makes you wonder who finances all these legal charades. If I understood it right: Trashy parents prostitute their own minor daughters and then years later the daughter files a lawsuit because Morgan did not stop her loving parents from doing it? Wow – I guess Morgan dropped the ball because he Did not know all the details of each and every deputy’s private life.

  27. David Huie Green on July 4th, 2019 9:32 am

    ” Boy, this will open up Pandora’s box.
    Can you imagine the lawsuits coming if this is won?”

    If people actually ARE allowing criminal harm to children because the parents are paying off the officials with sex or other considerations to allow it to continue, they deserve not only lawsuits but prison suits.

    David for safe children

  28. just saying on July 4th, 2019 8:37 am

    You know he won’t lie!!!!!!! “I WILL NOT RUN FOR A THIRD TERM”

  29. Wayne on July 4th, 2019 7:46 am

    I did not have sex with that woman..
    I did not inhale…
    Say what ?

  30. David on July 4th, 2019 7:44 am

    That legal system….

  31. Don Neese on July 4th, 2019 6:34 am

    So….if I understand this correctly. The two daughters of the convicted parents are suing the Sheriff because they claim he failed to protect them from their parents. Boy, this will open up Pandora’s box.
    Can you imagine the lawsuits coming if this is won?
    Children of alcoholic parents?
    Children of unstable parents on pain meds?
    Children of parents who leave their kids all night?

    This doesn’t smell right.

  32. Good grief on July 4th, 2019 5:07 am

    I sure hope it’s not true. Can someone like Leah Manning be believed?

  33. Williwonka on July 4th, 2019 4:52 am

    Morgan’s “denial” was very weak.

  34. MR REALITY on July 4th, 2019 3:36 am

    wait, is the judge telling us if Morgan had kept his mouth closed then he would of been protected…Say it aint so….

  35. mike on July 4th, 2019 1:34 am

    Whole thing’s absurd. What does the Manning bunch want, to be paid for services rendered? Sorry “ladies” to be paid for those kind of services is illegal. Being that Momma is or will be going to prison kind of puts a damper on your lawsuit young “ladies”.

    Seems like every time you turn around some man is being put on trial for having a sex life. Or some woman can’t handle doing a job that traditionally is held by a man and cashes out by playing the harassment card. Meanwhile lawyers “stack paper” I think colloquil

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