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Former Utah sheriff's deputy sentenced for illegal strip-searches

Published August 21, 2013 6:16 pm

Box Elder County • Victim hoped for apology, but Scott Womack didn't speak during hearing.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Brigham City • When ex-Box Elder County Deputy Scott Womack's sentencing finally came — three years after he told then-17-year-old Tamsen Reid to strip down in his patrol car on a cold November night — Reid said she was hopeful that Womack would apologize in open court.

But when given the opportunity to speak Wednesday, Womack, heeding his attorney's advice, declined to give a statement. Asked by the judge if he had read the impact statements filed by seven victims who accused him of similar strip-searching incidents, Womack said he had not.

"It's weird that I kind of expected an apology," Reid, now 20, said after the sentencing. " … I shouldn't expect that, but I wish he would have."

First District Judge Kevin Allen sentenced Womack, 37, to one-year incarceration for ordering women to expose parts of their bodies after pulling them over on false pretexts.

"We were told [in school] that if you need help, seek out a police officer," Allen told Womack before handing down the sentence. "And you have totally violated that principle that we teach our children. … Instead of getting the help and respect that [the victims] deserved, they were mistreated and demeaned."

Allen ordered the one-year term to run concurrently with an 18-month federal sentence imposed earlier this month. The federal case also deals with illegal strip-searches.

Womack had pleaded no contest in 1st District Court to two misdemeanor counts of custodial sexual misconduct and attempted custodial misconduct. Nine other charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

In a civil suit filed in August 2011, Reid claims Womack told her during a traffic stop that she needed to be searched for tattoos and piercings, because there was a warrant out for the arrest of a Tamsen Reid in Arizona. She was told either to strip down in his patrol car or go to jail.

Reluctantly, she agreed, and removed her shorts, underwear and shirt in his car, but refused when Womack tried to "check for a vaginal piercing," according to the lawsuit.

On Wednesday, Reid said that even after the incident, she still trusts law enforcement and wouldn't hesitate to call them for help, but added: "I'm more cautious and less naive about it."

Reid was the only victim to attend Womack's sentencing Wednesday.

The civil suit against Womack is still pending as are two similar lawsuits.

Womack's attorney, Bernie Allen, said outside of court that if Womack apologizes, he will do so personally in writing. He said the man does not plan to pursue his law enforcement career once he is released from prison.

On Aug. 12, U.S. District Court Judge David Sam ordered Womack to turn himself into the U.S. Marshals Service on or before Oct. 14. The judge agreed to the delay to allow Womack to deal with the charges that were then still pending in state court, and with several health-related issues.

Womack pleaded guilty in federal court to two misdemeanor counts of violating the civil rights of women he unlawfully strip-searched during routine traffic stops in 2010. According to state and federal charges, he ordered at least eight women to expose parts of their bodies after pulling them over on false pretexts between July 2010 and July 2011. He was fired in July 2011 after a victim filed a lawsuit.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped six other counts pending against Womack in federal court.

Womack admitted in the federal case to using a ruse similar to what happened to Reid to get two women to partially undress.

jmiller@sltrib.com