This motel in Jefferson is where a woman alleges former State Police Trooper Derek S. Snavely first stopped her on Nov. 16 on suspicion of DUI, and later coaxed her into having sex with him at her friend’s house. The woman, who is known only as Jane Doe, filed suit against Snavely, and the State Police alleging the incident violated her civil rights. (Photo by Lawrence Smith)
CHARLESTON – The West Virginia State Police and one if its former officers are named in a civil rights lawsuit alleging that the trooper coaxed a woman into having sex with him following a traffic stop last year.
Derek S. Snavely is named in a four-count civil rights suit alleging he used his authority as a state trooper to talk a woman into an inappropriate relationship. The woman alleges that following a traffic stop in November, Snavely lured her into a sexual encounter in exchange for not pressing charges against her for DUI.
According to court records, the woman, who is identified only as Jane Doe, was pulled over by Snavely between 4:30 and 5 a.m. on Nov. 16 at Smiley’s Motel in Jefferson. Snavely initiated the stop alleging the woman was driving left of the center line.
After asking for her identification, Snavely asked the woman if she’d been drinking. She told him she had “a couple of drinks at a bar in Charleston” and was en route to meet some friends for breakfast.
Suspecting she may be intoxicated, Snavely asked the woman to perform a field sobriety test. When she asked if he was going to arrest her for DUI, Snavely replied “No, I don’t think you’re that drunk.”
However, he asked her to get into the front seat of his cruiser where, records show, they made small talk. When Snavely asked her if she’d get fired from her job on account of a DUI charge, the woman replied she would as she was sometimes required to drive a state-owned vehicle.
After informing her that she was not going to be charged with DUI, the suit alleges Snavely exited his cruiser and told the male companion who was riding with the woman that he was going to have to get a ride from someone else. He again returned to the cruiser, and continued making small talk with the woman.
Though Snavely attempted to discourage her from calling a friend to come get her at Smiley’s, the woman did anyway. He informed her that upon leaving, he would be required to wait in the parking lot for 15 minutes, and her car was at risk of being towed.
Records show, after leaving a voice-message for her friend, the woman complied with Snavely’s request to unbutton her blouse. When he commented on her looks, the woman told Snavely that she was much older than him, and she had a teenage child.
Shortly thereafter, the friend’s husband called the woman. The woman, who was residing with the couple, told him to that she’d be arriving at their home soon.
After she hung-up, Snavely told the woman to move her car to another spot on the motel’s parking. After she did, he asked her for a kiss, which she gave him, and told her to call her friend back and inform her that she was bringing a trooper home.
The woman was followed by Snavely to her friend’s home which is not disclosed in court records. Upon arriving there, she showed him to a guest bedroom before she went to an adjacent bathroom.
After finishing in the bathroom, the woman alleges she entered the bedroom where she found Snavely “had his gun and holster on the bed and his pants down around his ankles.” She alleges Snavely then grabbed her head and “pushed her down, forcing her to have oral sex on him.”
Later, Snavely told the woman to take her pants off so they could engage in intercourse. Though they did, the woman alleges Snavely abruptly stopped.
“He said he would be off work by 8 a.m. and he appeared to be distraught and freaking out,” the woman claims.
Though records are unclear as to when Snavely left the woman’s friend’s house, he sent her a text message at 6:08 a.m. asking ” ‘You in bed?’”
The woman alleges the resulting encounter caused her pain and suffering, both physical and mental, embarrassment, humiliation and loss of self-esteem. Her suit makes claims of constitutional violations, sexual discrimination, sexual assault and battery and negligence.
Sgt. Michael Baylous, a State Police spokesman, told WCHS-TV 8 that State Police conducted an internal investigation of the incident, and turned its findings over to the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office. After reviewing the report, Baylous said the prosecutor’s office decided it would not be pressing charges against Snavely.
WCHS also aired clips from a surveillance footage from inside the home purporting to show Snavely and the woman entering the guest bedroom.
Snavely, 25, began working as a trooper on Sept. 5, 2006, and resigned effective Dec. 5, just over two weeks following the encounter with the woman. His salary was $51,003.50, according to the state Auditor’s Office.
The woman is seeking unspecified damages. She is represented by Charleston attorney and former Kanawha County Prosecutor Michael T. Clifford, Hurricane attorney Shawn Bayliss and Lonnie Simmons with the Charleston law firm of DiTrapano, Barrett and DiPiero.
The case is assigned to Judge James C. Stucky.
Kanawha Circuit Court, Case No. 09-C-1464