SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri state trooper accused of taking sexually explicit photos of a 16-year-old boy was once sued in a separate incident for excessive force at a traffic stop.
Justin Watson, 46, was charged Tuesday with four counts of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual contact with a student.
Investigators said they found sexually explicit photos of Watson and the teen. A spokesman for the Missouri State Highway Patrol said the trooper has been placed on unpaid leave. The spokesman didn't say how long Watson worked for the patrol and for which troop.
Court records show Willie Dale Foulks sued Watson in 2009 alleging the trooper attacked and choked him for no reason at a traffic stop in Doniphan. Foulks was charged with resisting arrest and third-degree assault, but was later acquitted.
Foulks said in his lawsuit that Watson had an "evil motive." The driver alleged he paid more than $50,000 in medical bills due to injuries from the attack.
A jury ended up siding with Watson.
The patrol spokesman didn't answer if Watson had ever been placed on administrative leave before the recent sexual exploitation investigation.
Court records show Watson was paid by the Mountain View Birch Tree School District to umpire baseball games since 2016. The records show the teen is a student at one of the district's schools. District Superintendent Don Christensen said Watson hasn't had anything to do with the district since the baseball season ended in May.
Court documents show Watson has a bond of $50,000. His attorney, Devin Kirby, didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.