CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former West Virginia State Police trooper Derek Snavely testified Monday that he didn't force a woman into having sex with him while on duty in November 2008 and that he didn't want to resign from the State Police after the incident.
"I made a bad decision," Snavely, now the police chief in Hinton, said several times in his testimony.
Charleston resident Julie Fato says Snavely forced her to have sex with him after pulling her over on a traffic stop and then following her to the house where she was staying. The trial began Monday in Kanawha Circuit Judge James C. Stucky's courtroom.
Lonnie Simmons, one of Fato's lawyers, said in his opening statement that Snavely took advantage of a woman whom he knew was drunk.
"This case addresses the larger issue of police abuse," he said. "What she seeks is the only thing our system allows us . . . to recover monetary damages."
Snavely's lawyer, Lou Ann Cyrus, told the jury that while Snavely certainly made a mistake, he didn't force Fato into anything.
"She was the aggressor," Cyrus said. "She went out of her way to have sex with him."
Cyrus told jurors they didn't have to agree with what Snavely and Fato did, only that it was consensual. "This is a court of law," she said, "not a court of morals."
With Snavely on the stand, Mike Clifford, another of Fato's lawyers, showed the jury a video of Snavely stopping her car early in the morning on Nov. 16, 2008. The video starts with Snavely parked along the side of the road. He pulls out after Fato's car passes, then pulls her over after she clearly swerves over the center double line.
On the video, Fato said she had one drink.
"How big of a drink was it, a gallon?" Snavely asked her on the video.
He then gets her out of the car and had her perform several field sobriety tests. She followed his instructions, although not precisely.
On Monday, Snavely testified that he didn't think Fato was drunk but told her she should get a ride home.
He said that, once she was in the car, she started to flirt with him and tried to kiss him. He said he wouldn't let her because there were a lot of people near where they were parked.
"So you didn't have any problem kissing her," Clifford asked. "You just didn't want to do it in public."