This is an extraordinary and deeply disturbing story. In Polk County, a sexual predator of young men named Sgt. Scott Lawson was allowed to carry out a personal fantasy as an officer with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in pursuing and abusing young men during his 11-year career. In 2002, Lawson chased two young men in his unmarked police car (without activating his lights) and allegedly forced them into an accident — killing Miles White and seriously injuring Adam Jacoby. There is evidence that Lawson rammed their car — forcing it into a tree — but the police investigators allowed Lawson’s car to be removed from the scene and did not interview Lawson. He was heralded by police as a hero until he was later found to be a sexual predator of young boys.
The two boys had just left a party after Adam had been beaten up. They may have thought that the car chasing them was from the party since Lawson never turned on his lights. An officer in another car fell behind because Lawson was going so fast (possible in excess of 120 miles an hour) and reportedly stated that he did not understand why Lawson did not use his siren and lights. Lawson confirmed shortly before the crash that the car was not stolen and was unclear on the legal cause of the chase. The family also cites evidence that Lawson had said that he wanted to get into a chase that night and see some excitement.
It turns about the Lawson was a child abuser of young boys. Two weeks earlier he had made a 15-year-old boy strip naked without reason. It was just one of a number of such incidents and, when a warrant was later sworn out, the police found a medical table and probes in his home. They located a list of boys who testified that Lawson had given them anal probes and genital exams. These allegations surfaced after police called Lawson a hero for his role in the accident and parents saw his picture in the newspaper — though there is some evidence that his colleagues may have had reason to know before the accident.
At the accident scene, Lawson’s colleagues acted in a very curious manner. Lawson left the scene for the hospital complaining of chest pains. Accident investigators never questioning him or the role of his car which was clearly involved in the crash. Lawson was allowed to have a friend come and take the car away.
The car went missing for five days. The police say it was put back into the fleet and people are not sure which car it was.
While witnesses described it as gray or blue, investigators later were given a dark green car that they were told was Lawson’s — and it showed no damage.
Lawson himself made a report that contained apparent lies, including statements that he was told the car was stolen, that he never went faster than 70 mph, and had given up the chase two miles back from accident. Despite the falsehoods, investigator Detective David Hooyman did not seem bothered by the discrepancies or consider it necessary to interrogate Lawson. He just took the report and manifestly true.
Hooyman, who seems blatantly negligent at best, insists that his supervisors barred any interview with Lawson and Lt. Susan Newton testified that Col. Hester, the department’s chief of law enforcement, did indeed bar such an interview.
Ultimately, Lawson was charged with 36 counts related to his sexual battery and practicing medicine without a license. When he was arrested the department issued the following statement from Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr. stated, “The accusations and subsequent investigation was a shock to all of us. Scott has been a great street
cop, but you can rest assured we’re going to do what’s right.”
He was allowed to plead guilty to a single count of sexual battery and six counts of practicing medicine without a license for a 15 year sentence.
Adam was charged, citing alcohol in his system. However, there was mounting evidence that Lawson had struck the vehicle. Nevertheless, the family’s civil attorney Gregg Goldfarb declined to use the evidence that Lawson intentionally struck the car because he wanted to proceed on a pure negligence case — not an intentional tort case. It was a curious rationale because he could have still made the negligence case with such evidence. The choice cost the family the claim, which was dismissed by the court for the failure to introduce sufficient evidence. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara ruled that “[a]lthough Deputy Lawson’s patrol car was removed from the scene and was not examined … until five days after the accident, there is no evidence at this point to suggest Deputy Lawson’s patrol car ever hit Adam Jacoby’s (car).”
A state case is now pending.
None of the officers or supervisors responsible for this calamity of errors appear to have been disciplined in any way. In the meantime, Adams accepted a plea to manslaughter and probation.
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