Former Utah deputy who performed illegal strip searches pleads no contest
Brigham City • A former Box Elder County sheriff's deputy pleaded no contest Wednesday to misdemeanors related to accusations that he sexually assaulted women during a series of traffic stops.
The deal will keep Scott Womack, 37 out of state prison, but not necessarily jail. And Womack is still facing federal charges.
Womack pleaded no contest in 1st District Court to one count of attempted custodial sexual misconduct, a class A misdemeanor, and two counts of attempted custodial misconduct, class B misdemeanors. The class A count carries up to a year in jail. The lesser counts each carry up to six months in jail.
Initially, court documents indicated that Womack would plead no contest to one third-degree felony count of custodial sexual misconduct, but he pleaded to a reduced charge in court on Wednesday. Nine additional misdemeanor charges, including official misconduct, lewdness, unlawful detention and theft were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Womack's attorney, Bernard Allen, said Wednesday outside the courtroom that this plea deal will not affect federal prosecution, but it did tie together individual cases that had been filed in various Box Elder County justice courts.
Allen said sentencing is scheduled for May 8, but that will likely be delayed if the federal cases are not resolved by that time.
A no-contest plea is similar to pleading guilty. However, pleading no contest cannot be used as an admission of guilt in related lawsuits filed against a defendant.
Three women who said they were victimized by Womack have filed lawsuits that name Womack, Box Elder County Sheriff J. Lynn Yeates, Box Elder County and the Utah Department of Public Safety as defendants.
Womack is accused of ordering women to submit to strip searches during traffic stops on eight different occasions between October 2010 and July 2011, according to charging documents.
He allegedly told the women he was searching for incriminating body art and piercings and demanded they remove their clothing to reveal intimate areas. He was charged in various jurisdictions in the northern Utah county earlier this year after an investigation by the Weber County Sheriff's Office.
Womack faces eight federal counts of violating civil rights, a misdemeanor offense. A jury trial is set to begin March 6 on the federal charges.
Yeates has said Womack was fired after one of the alleged victims filed a complaint in July 2011.