SALT LAKE CITY -- A former Box Elder County sheriff's deputy has pleaded not guilty to eight federal misdemeanor counts amid accusations he conducted illegal strip searches on women during traffic stops in 2010, telling some he needed to check for incriminating tattoos.
Brigham City resident Scott R. Womack, 36, entered the plea Wednesday. He's been appointed a public defender and is scheduled for a five-day jury trial starting June 25.
Womack faces eight counts of deprivation of rights under color of law following an FBI investigation. Court documents list eight different alleged incidents in which Womack told women to expose parts of their body without a legitimate law enforcement purpose.
He faces up to a year in federal prison on each count.
In addition to similar state charges pending against him, Womack has been sued by two women who say they were told to take off their clothes so he could check them for tattoos or piercings.
In a lawsuit filed in December, plaintiff Talia S. Buck says Womack pulled her over near Brigham City and forced her to show her back and lower abdomen to prove she had no tattoos.
Womack claimed a woman with Buck's name was wanted on an Arizona arrest warrant and said she could prove her identity by letting him compare their physical descriptions and look for tattoos, attorneys wrote in the suit.
Buck showed him her two tattoos -- on her collarbone and foot -- and told him she had never been to Arizona, the lawsuit stated.
"Womack was persistent, and indicated that according to policy, Ms. Buck had two options. She could either pull down or 'low-ride' her pants to show Womack, or take the 'hard' way' and be arrested and fingerprinted at the police station," the lawsuit said.
Court papers said Womack repeatedly told Buck "we should just make this fast and easy."
Womack abruptly ended the interaction on Nov. 26, 2010, after Buck began crying and said her mother was on her cellphone and she needed to talk to her, lawyers claimed. They alleged that before leaving, the deputy said Buck should "pretend this never happened."
The claims are similar to those in an August lawsuit filed against the deputy in federal court by Tamsen Reid, who claimed she was pulled over by Womack and told to remove her clothes inside his patrol car or face arrest on an alleged Arizona arrest warrant involving heroin.
According to court documents, Reid said she had never been to Arizona nor used heroin, but she reluctantly agreed to be searched for tattoos and piercings rather than go to jail.
Womack denied those allegations in court papers in December.
A message left for Michael Christiansen, Womack's attorney in the state cases, was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Womack has been released from custody but was ordered to surrender his passport and avoid contact with any of the alleged victims in the case.