Teen Says Sheriff's Deputy Made Her Strip
SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - A sheriff's deputy made a 17-year-old girl strip for him in his squad car so he could "check for a vaginal piercing" after falsely telling her she was wanted on an out-of-state warrant on a heroin charge, the teen says in Federal Court.
T.R., now 18, says that after she reported what Box Elder County sheriff's Deputy Scott R. Womack had done, a Box Elder County "victim's advocate" told her: "'Don't bother reporting this, because these things happen all the time, and nothing ever becomes of them.'"
T.R. says Womack pulled over the car in which she was a passenger on Nov. 20, 2010, allegedly for speeding. After forcing all three girls in the car to "stand barefoot on the snowy roadside and lift up their shirts and pull their bras away from their bodies," he took their ID to his cruiser, allegedly to check for warrants, the complaint states.
T.R. says Womack returned and told her she was wanted on "an outstanding warrant for a heroin violation in Arizona." T.R., knowing she had never been to Arizona and never touched heroin, protested.
Womack told her "he was not able to show [her] the warrant because he had 'logged off.' He told [her] that if he tried to access the warrant again, it would alert officials in Arizona, requiring him to arrest her," the complaint states.
"Womack told [T.R.] that she had two options: either to be arrested and go to jail for booking and processing, or to get in his car and be searched for certain tattoos and piercings. Not wanting to be arrested and taken to jail, and believing Womack's statements regarding the necessity of a search because he was a uniformed officer of the law, [T.R.] reluctantly chose the latter option.
"Womack placed [her] in the passenger seat of his patrol car and instructed her to remove her clothing. In obedience to the uniformed officer's commands, [T.R.] did indeed remove her slippers, shorts, underwear, and shirt.
"Womack then informed [T.R.] he needed to check for a vaginal piercing. [T.R.] refused to spread her legs for him. Womack then told her to get dressed and return to the car."
Womack gave the car's male driver a "warning citation" for speeding and let the group go, but never filed an official copy of the citation with the sheriff's office, the complaint states.
T.R. says she visited a police station in June "to check on the alleged 'Arizona warrant' Womack had mentioned," and found there was no such warrant, for her or for anyone else with her name.
She says she then contacted county authorities to report Womack's actions, and "had a discussion with a victim's advocate from the county, who told [her], in substance, 'Don't bother reporting this, because these things happen all the time, and nothing ever becomes of them.'"
She says she submitted a complaint to the sheriff anyway.
T.R. says she suffered shock, humiliation, and severe emotional distress, and that Womack's actions "instilled in her a significant and continuing fear of law enforcement officers."
She sued Womack, Box Elder County and its Sheriff J. Lynn Yeates.
She seeks punitive damages for civil rights and constitutional violations, including illegal search, seizure and detention, and failure to train or supervise.
She is represented by Robert Sykes.
Box Elder County, a remote area north and west of the Great Salt Lake, has its seat in Brigham City.