A state trooper accused of taking sexually explicit photos with a 16-year-old boy was once sued when a Doniphan man alleged the trooper used excessive force at a traffic stop.
Justin D. Watson was sued in 2009 after a driver alleged he was attacked and choked by Watson at a traffic stop for no reason. A jury ultimately sided with Watson in 2010.
Watson, 46, was charged Tuesday with four counts of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual contact with a student.
Investigators say they found four photos of the teen that included a sex toy, red wax drippings, and a camouflage mask. One photo allegedly shows the penises of both Watson and the 16-year-old.
Watson, a trooper in Troop G, has been placed on leave without pay, according to a spokesman for the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The spokesman did not respond to questions asking how long Watson worked for the patrol and for which troops he had worked.
Watson was apparently a trooper in Troop E, which covers Ripley County, on April 24, 2004.
According to a federal lawsuit filed by Willie Dale Foulks, Foulks was driving his truck that day in Doniphan when Watson pulled him over.
Watson and Foulks were familiar with each other, according to court documents.
Watson approached the car and asked for Foulk’s driver’s license, the lawsuit said.
Suddenly, the lawsuit said, Watson reached into the truck through the window and pulled and choked Foulks before letting go.
Foulks opened the truck door and Watson allegedly grabbed him again, forced him on the ground and put him in a chokehold.
Foulks was arrested for careless and imprudent driving, the lawsuit said, and would later be charged with resisting arrest and third-degree assault.
According to a deputy clerk at the Ripley County Circuit Court, the case ended with a jury trial and an acquittal for Foulks.
Foulks said in his suit that Watson had an “evil motive.” Foulks claimed to have paid more than $50,000 in medical bills due to injuries he suffered during the traffic stop.
Watson denied wrongdoing, according to court records, and a federal jury sided with him in September 2010.
A spokesman for the highway patrol did not respond to a question asking if Watson had ever been placed on administrative leave before the recent sexual exploitation investigation.
A probable cause statement used to charge Watson said the victim is a student at Mountain View-Liberty High School.
According to the statement, Watson was paid by the school district to umpire baseball games for the baseball team since 2016.
Investigators spoke with the boy in September, the statement said, who said he and Watson have been in contact regularly since November 2016.
The boy allegedly said they did not have any sexual contact until he turned 17.
According to the statement, the photos included red wax drippings, a camouflage mask, a black sex toy. One photo allegedly showed the penises of both the boy and Watson.
The boy said Watson used the boy’s phone to take the pictures, then sent them to his own phone, according to the statement.
The superintendent of Mountain View Birch Tree Schools, Don Christensen, said Watson hasn’t had anything to do with the district since baseball season ended in May.
According to court records, Watson has a bond of $50,000 and his attorney filed a motion to reduce the bond Wednesday.
Watson’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.