|The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has repeatedly said that it had no knowledge of Sgt. Scott Lawson’s sexual activities until after the accident that killed Miles White.
But two reports from a deputy, plus testimony and witness accounts say the office had been alerted two weeks before the May 31 accident.
On an incident form dated May 16, 2002, Deputy Heather Mundell wrote that Lawson told her “on radio” that he would handle a call (involving a 15-year-old runaway). But he didn’t handle it, Mundell wrote, so she “worked the case.”
In a second May 16 report, Mundell wrote that she spoke to the boy’s mother, who told her that a deputy had inappropriately strip-searched her son. Mundell’s report said she, the boy and his mother met with senior detective Gloria Blackwelder that night.
Blackwelder agreed that she and Mundell took notes of what the boy told them on the same night. From Blackwelder’s notes: Lawson made him “take off boxers ... bend over and cough ... lift private parts ... turn in a circle.”
But the handwritten date on Blackwelder’s report is not May 16 but June 12, two weeks after the accident that killed Miles.
The boy, his mother and his cousin support Mundell’s date.
The boy testified that Mundell brought him in and Blackwelder interviewed him May 16.
His mother, Cheryl Swords, told the Times that Mundell and Blackwelder interviewed them May 16. “I drove to that substation behind Mundell in my red Mustang with my niece. Mundell was upset about the strip search, but her office didn’t get all over (my son’s complaint) until that boy was killed a few weeks later.”
At first Mundell testified that her May 16 date was correct. But she contradicted herself in the same deposition: She said the interview did not come until after Lawson was arrested and resigned, which came after the accident that killed Miles.
Never mind the “5-16’’ dates in her own reports, Mundell testified, she couldn’t rely on what she wrote. “For all I know this could be 8-16.”
Mundell did not explain how she took a police radio call from Lawson the night she worked the case, as she noted in her police report, if Lawson had been arrested and resigned from the department.
— Meg Laughlin