Courts • Two women file suit, say they were inappropriately searched during traffic stops.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A former Box Elder County sheriff's deputy has been charged with multiple counts of official misconduct and sexual misconduct related to alleged inappropriate searches of women during traffic stops.
Scott Womack, 36, was charged Monday in 1st District Court with custodial sexual misconduct of a minor, a third-degree felony, and misdemeanor official misconduct in the Nov. 20, 2010 search of Tamsen Reid.
Reid is one of two women who have sued Womack in federal court, claiming he insisted on searching their bodies for intimate body art during traffic stops.
Reid, who was 17 at the time, claims she was traveling to Idaho with a number of friends when the driver was pulled over about 10 p.m. for speeding.
Womack ordered the three girls in the group to stand barefoot in the snow, lift their shirts and pull their bras away from their bodies, claiming it was necessary for him to conduct a search, the lawsuit states.
Womack then took Reid into the passenger seat of his patrol car and told her to spread her legs because he needed to document any "vaginal piercings," according to the lawsuit. Reid says she refused and returned to her friends.
But Womack came back and told Reid she had a warrant for a heroin violation in Arizona, the lawsuit states. Reid said she had never been to Arizona, but Womack said Reid could either go to jail or return to the patrol car to be searched for tattoos and piercings, according to the suit.
Reid claims she agreed to the search in order to avoid arrest. The suit states she followed Womack's orders to remove her shorts, underwear and shirt but refused to let Womack "check for a vaginal piercing."
"I'm really glad [charges] are finally happening," Reid said Wednesday. "It's time he be penalized for what he's done to young women."
Brigham City prosecutor Michael Christiansen did not return calls Wednesday for comment as to whether the criminal allegations align with the allegations in Reid's lawsuit.
Christiansen also was unavailable for comment on other criminal charges filed this week against Womack.
On Tuesday, one day after the felony case was filed, Womack was charged in Box Elder County Justice Court with three other misdemeanor cases of official misconduct and attempted custodial sexual misconduct. Another such case was filed Jan. 3 in Garland City Justice Court, and another was filed Dec. 28 in Tremonton City Justice Court. Specific allegations in those cases were not immediately available. Tremonton City Attorney Dustin Ericson and Garland City Attorney Kelly Smith also did not return calls for comment.
Womack faces a second lawsuit in federal court over a search on Nov. 26. 2010.
Talia Buck, 20, said Womack followed her for several miles on Interstate 15 before stopping her in a deserted area south of Brigham City. He allegedly claimed there was a warrant for her arrest in Arizona. When she objected, he told her to expose her lower abdomen to show she did not have tattoos to match the "description" of the subject in the supposed arrest warrant, the lawsuit claims.
It is not clear whether Buck's case is one of the criminal cases. None of the offenses alleged in the criminal charges occurred Nov. 26. The earliest allegation is dated July 31, 2010. In total, he is charged with one felony and 11 misdemeanors: six counts of official misconduct, three counts of attempted custodial misconduct, one count of lewdness and one count of unlawful detention.
Reid said she called police in Sandy in June 2011 6 months after the alleged traffic stop to ask about the Arizona warrant Womack had discussed. After discovering it did not exist, Reid said she reported the incident to a Box Elder County victim's advocate.
"She told me not to go forward with it, that it was normal, and this kind of thing happens all the time which, apparently, it does up there," Reid said. Reid filed a complaint on July 18, and Box Elder County Sheriff Lynn Yeates has said Womack was terminated after Reid's allegations. One of the charges alleges misconduct as late as July 20, 2011.
Yeates declined to comment on Womack's charges or termination because both federal lawsuits name Box Elder County and Yeates as defendants.
Reid's attorney, Robert B. Sykes, said the charges against Womack amount to partial justice.
"We're hoping for Box Elder County to have some justice here, too," Sykes said. "We believe they knew about these problems months in advance and did nothing."
Womack's civil attorney, Kathleen Liuzzi, did not return a call for comment. A judge deemed Womack eligible for a public defender in one of the criminal cases. Womack pleaded not guilty to official misconduct in Tremonton City Justice Court; he has not been arraigned in the other cases.