A former Hi-Line undersheriff now faces a second felony after prosecutors say he sexually abused a second teen, starting when she was 14 and often in his patrol vehicle.
Luke Strommen, born in 1977, was charged in December in Valley County District Court with sexual intercourse without consent. Strommen has yet to make an initial appearance on the charge. Also pending against him is one count of sexual abuse of children.
Strommen had sex with the teen dozens of times between 2009 and 2011, beginning when she was 14, charges allege. The new allegations surfaced in November, a month after Strommen was charged with offenses related to the first alleged victim.
The girl, who occasionally babysat for Strommen and his family, estimated the two had sex 50 times over the two-year span, charges allege. She said the majority of encounters took place inside Strommen’s patrol vehicle, which he had parked outside of his friend’s home in a remote area of Valley County.
Strommen began to sexually abuse the teen at the same time he began training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy in 2009, charges state.
Strommen then contacted the teen in 2013, two years after their sexual relationship ended, and provided her with the same email address he gave to the alleged victim in his first felony case, according to the new charging documents. Prosecutors with the Attorney General’s Office said Strommen’s email communications with both girls was similar, including sexual language and messages saying he needed his “fix” from whichever girl he was emailing.
Valley County Attorney Dylan Jensen asked the Attorney General’s Office to handle the case, due to potential conflicts of interest prosecuting a county employee.
Strommen recently contacted the girl’s mother and told her he was “so sorry,” and asked her to tell the alleged victim he was sorry, charges state.
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Strommen served as the undersheriff from January 2017 until he was demoted to deputy on Aug. 15 amid the first criminal investigation. Faced with termination, he resigned Nov. 1, according to Sheriff Tom Boyer, who was sworn in Monday. Strommen had been on paid administrative leave since June 15.
Valley County Sheriffs Deputy Luke Strommen has been accused of sexual interactions with a teenager while he was on duty and in uniform.
District Court Judge John Larson, of Missoula County, has ordered Strommen released on his own recognizance.
Boyer, the new sheriff, said Strommen agreed to resign in November, after being faced with termination.
“Personal conduct, general conduct, use of county equipment, rules of conduct, actually also the use of telephones and computers,” Boyer said, of the county’s reasons for planning to fire Strommen. “I’d say the biggest thing, though, would be code of ethics.”
Boyer said that beyond the two alleged victims in the charging documents, the county was not aware of any other victims Strommen may have had.
Strommen had filed to run for sheriff in 2018, but dropped his name from the ballot after the criminal case against him was filed.
Montana's Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council discussed the allegations against Strommen at its case status committee meeting Oct. 31. POST is the state's law enforcement certifying agency. The council has placed the matter on hold pending the outcome of Strommen's criminal cases, according to Katrina Bolger, a paralegal at the agency.