Federal lawsuit filed against BE County Sheriff for alleged teen strip search

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A former sheriff’s deputy forced a 17-year-old girl to stand barefoot in the snow then strip naked in his patrol car to avoid arrest during a 2010 traffic stop, according to a federal lawsuit. Tamsen Reid, now 18, also claims former Box Elder sheriff’s deputy Scott R. Womack, 35, made her and two other teenagers in the car lift their shirts and pull their bras away from their bodies, saying he was conducting a search. Reid said in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City that Womack told her to remove her clothes inside his patrol car or face arrest for what he said was an Arizona warrant involving heroin. Reid said she protested, telling the deputy she had never been to Arizona nor used heroin, the suit said, but she reluctantly agreed to be searched for tattoos and piercings rather than go to jail. A working telephone number couldn’t immediately be found for Womack. No attorney was listed for him in court records. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for violation of Reid’s constitutional rights. Also named as defendants are Box Elder County and Sheriff J. Lynn Yeates for allegedly not disciplining Womack after receiving previous citizen complaints. “Sheriff Yeates and the Sheriff’s Office knew or should have known that Deputy Womack had previously received citizen complaints against him accusing Womack of illegal actions, sexual harassment, and/or other misconduct,” the lawsuit states. “Yet Womack was not subsequently supervised adequately or disciplined for such misconduct.” Attorney Frank Mylar is representing the county and the sheriff in the case, but said he does not represent Womack, who no longer works for the sheriff’s department. “Sheriff Yeates takes all citizens’ complaints seriously. This matter was fully investigated and action taken swiftly,” Mylar said Wednesday. Reid’s attorney, Robert Sykes, said Womack was fired in February for misconduct. Box Elder County officials say Womack has not been employed with the county since March, five months before Reid came forward, but they declined to say why, citing confidentiality rules. Box Elder County sheriff’s chief deputy Kevin Potter said Reid filed a criminal misconduct report against Womack in July and that the matter was turned over to an outside agency, Weber County, to investigate. Reid claims she suffered extreme shock, emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment, and that the incident instilled in her an ongoing fear of law enforcement. Reid had initially not reported the incident with Womack, but after she discovered there was no Arizona warrant for her, she contacted Box Elder County, according to the suit.

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