A former Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office deputy is under investigation for alleged sexual abuse that occurred during a traffic stop last November.
Montezuma County court records show former Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Darrin Harper was called to the 1300 block of Mildred Road on Nov. 1, 2012, to assist with a DUI drug case. After his investigation, Harper arrested and searched the 52-year-old woman driving the vehicle.
In his written report, which was missing from court records but provided to the Cortez Journal by the defendant, Harper stated that based on his training and experience as a drug-recognition expert, he believed the driver was “under the influence of something.”
The woman filed a complaint Jan. 28 with the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office. In it, she said she requested a female officer to search her. The request wasn’t granted. She went on to say Harper “fondled my breast and felt my inner thighs.”
Court records show the driver was initially stopped by Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office Deputy J. Clark at about 7:30 p.m. According to records, a Cortez Police Department officer was questioning the driver regarding an expired driver’s license when Clark called Harper to the scene. Records show police officials turned the investigation over to Harper upon his arrival.
The driver said Clark told Harper, his superior officer, that a female officer was needed to conduct the personal pat down, but Harper refused.
“He did this, because he thinks he can get away it,” the woman wrote in her complaint. “I felt so helpless when this was happening. I didn’t know what to do.”
She said an investigator with the district attorney’s office informed her that the initial complaint got lost in a folder.
“They said it was overlooked, and that’s why nothing was done,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office said no record of a complaint being filed could be located, so an investigation was never launched.
When Harper’s employment with the Sheriff’s Office was terminated earlier this month, the woman contacted the Journal and provided a copy of the complaint, which was dated Jan. 28.
Will Furse, district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District, confirmed the DUI charge was dismissed and the citizen complaint was received.
“We will investigate,” Furse said of the complaint.
Furse said he assumes that both his agency and the Sheriff’s Office would have received the complaint the day it was filed.
Court records show the DUI charge was dismissed after the woman’s complaint was lodged against Harper. Furse said the case was not dismissed because of the complaint but because there was no probable cause for a field sobriety test.