A Sevier County couple has filed a federal civil rights suit against the county and Sevier County Sheriff John L. Mecham, accusing Mecham and two deputies of illegally searching their home.

Allen and Carol Watters seek damages for humiliation and suffering in addition to punitive damages to discourage the county from conducting future illegal searches, the suit said.According to the suit, Allen Watters was placed on a two-year probation for public intoxication on Jan. 1, 1988. The terms of the probation required Watters to submit to random breath tests during those two years.

Watters probation ended Jan. 3, 1990, the suit said. Sevier County Deputy Sheriff John Jorgensen came to Watters' home on Feb. 1, 1990, and ordered Watters to submit to a breath test. Watters said his probation had ended and he was no longer subject to random breath tests.

Jorgensen told Watters if he didn't take the test he would be arrested and put in jail, the suit said. Watters submitted to the test.

The suit said Jorgensen also came to the Watters home on Jan. 7, 1990, and roused Carol Watters from sleep. He attempted to arrest Mrs. Watters, the suit said, but instead of taking her to jail she was transported to Sevier County Hospital for treatment of a health problem. Jorgensen ordered her to come to his office later to be arrested, the suit said.

When Watters went to Jorgensen's office, he accused her "of being an alcoholic and of needing alcoholic treatment," but did not arrest her, the suit said.

After the two incidents, the Watters contacted an attorney. On April 19, 1990, Sevier County Deputy Sheriff Tony Bottomly went to the Watters home and ordered Carol Watters to show him a letter she had received from her attorney.

"He threatened that unless plaintiff complied with this demand, plaintiff would be immediately arrested and placed in jail," the suit said.