Sergeant Scott Montoya's Strange Fall

Fired OC deputy claims sheriff's department punished him for winning Navy Cross in Iraq War combat

IA raided Montoya's office email, finding nude pictures one woman sent. They also listened in on an audio transmitter inside the deputy's patrol car and caught him stopping an Asian female in a liquor-store parking lot. Sex talk and kissing sounds were recorded, according to court records. Another time, the deputy summoned a woman over to his car and, according to the transcript, said, "Did you miss me?" "I like it when you talk dirty," and "When are you going to fuck me?"

Records also show that deputies strenuously tried but failed to undermine Montoya's Navy Cross; raised questions about his Camp Pendleton superiority and sniper skills; speculated that the tragic death of his fiancee in a Colorado River jet-ski/boating collision had been "suspicious"; and collected an allegation from another deputy (Keller) that the ex-Marine claimed he would, as a favor for an OCSD colleague, kill anyone.

There's additional evidence the department was on a mission to collect as much dirt—substantiated, wildly reckless or tangential—as it could accumulate. Incredibly, IA deputies even probed Montoya's sex habits and made detailed records.

While OCSD had Montoya under surveillance, he was hailed a hero in a Torrance parade
Mark Mauno
While OCSD had Montoya under surveillance, he was hailed a hero in a Torrance parade
Montoya’s Navy Cross won national media attention and the wrath of fellow deputies
LCpl. Daniel J. Redding
Montoya’s Navy Cross won national media attention and the wrath of fellow deputies

According to court records, it's not clear why the agency or IA cared, but here's an example what OCSD noted: "[Redacted name of a Montoya girlfriend—a 23-year-old Hispanic woman] explained Montoya is only concerned with ejaculating. [Redacted] said there's not really anything loving about the way he has sex with her. [Redacted] said Montoya is obsessed with talking dirty and watching pornography. [Redacted] said Montoya enjoys playing porn (adult only) while they have sex. [Redacted] said one of the things Montoya frequently says to her during sex is 'Fuck me, little girl!' [Redacted] explained that she wasn't into porn and that the little girl comment really bothered her. [Redacted] said Montoya's sexual aggressiveness is usually too much for her to handle. She explained that she has difficulty keeping up with his sexual stamina. [Redacted] said Montoya can stay erect for a very long time. [Redacted] explained that Montoya's aggressiveness affects her birth control (IUD). Sometimes he gets so rough with her that . . . she bleeds. Whenever she reminds him of this, he gets upset with her and tells her she's ruining the moment. [Redacted] always has to remind him that she isn't as sexually experienced as he is and that she doesn't enjoy having sex for an extensive period of time as he does."

In another curious OCSD report apparently made with the same woman as the source, IA noted that Montoya liked to spit in her mouth "just before he ejaculates."

Kyle, Montoya's outraged plaintiff's lawyer, called the department's efforts to smear Montoya "a witch-hunt."

In late 2010, OCSD notified the deputy he was unfit for law-enforcement work and cited several more examples of misconduct. In one, he allegedly botched a 2009 South County domestic-violence case by writing a dishonest report and making inappropriate comments to the victim about her physical appearance. In another case that same year, he made a disgusting comment to a group of teenagers who'd been stopped on a simple noise-disturbance call near a Ladera Ranch community pool. An IA report states that Montoya told the teenagers to show him respect, "or I will fuck you with a dick so big it would make an elephant scream."

One of the teenagers was so shocked by the remark that she asked Montoya if she knew her uncle, OCSD Deputy Mike Peters. News of the comment spread quickly. For Sheriff Sandra Hutchens—much more of a stickler on ethics than her predecessor, who is currently serving a 6.6-year federal-prison sentence for corruption—and her command staff, this was the final straw. They refused even to allow him a transfer to the department's transit police bureau.

*    *    *

In November 2011, President Barack Obama strengthened the World War II-era Uniformed Service-members Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA) to resolve any legal doubts that the law bans harassment of military veterans in the workplace. Montoya is citing USERRA in his lawsuit. He's asking U.S. District Court Judge Jesus G. Bernal, a Mexico native and 2012 Obama appointee following a notable public-defender career, to rule that OCSD violated the act and that he's entitled to take his case to a jury for damages.

"Rather than celebrate his accomplishments, [OCSD] sought to tear him down," Kyle told Bernal. "They spread rumors about him, claimed his military qualifications and accomplishments were inflated or entirely fictional, that his Navy Cross was fraudulent, and that Carona himself personally intervened to ensure Montoya passed patrol training. Of course, none of it was true. . . . Through it all, Sergeant Montoya's performance was exemplary, as it always had been. Not once did he receive a substandard performance evaluation from OCSD."

Kyle also notes that a Dec. 7, 2009, command staff meeting at which the department and IA investigator Lavinia Vega labeled Montoya a "threat" to commit violence in response to the IA probes. The lawyer claims the meeting was another example of OCSD officials violating USERRA because they used Montoya's veteran status and sniper skills as key "assumptions" he was dangerous, a declaration used to justify placing secret cameras at his home and GPS trackers on his vehicles, as well as monitoring his phone calls without warrants.

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