Taos High teen charged with rape

Alleged victims transfer, accused returns to school

By John Miller
jmiller@taosnews.com
Posted 2/15/19

A 17-year-old male student at Taos High School allegedly raped two juvenile female students on school property between August 2017 and October 2018, according to Taos Police and court documents …

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Taos High teen charged with rape

Alleged victims transfer, accused returns to school

Posted

A 17-year-old male student at Taos High School allegedly raped two female students on school property between August 2017 and October 2018, according to Taos Police and court documents obtained by The Taos News.

The accused teen allegedly raped the first student on three separate occasions in August and September 2017. While court documents did not indicate where they occurred, School Resource Officer Henry Sanchez said the alleged rapes did take place on school grounds.

A juvenile delinquency petition charging the teenager with three counts of criminal sexual penetration in the second degree wasn’t filed until October 15, 2018, roughly six days after the student allegedly raped another girl who attended the high school.

In a phone interview on Wednesday (Feb. 13), Sanchez could not explain why nearly a year had passed before the 17-year-old was formally charged in the Children’s Court Division of 8th Judicial District Court in Taos.

At a first appearance Nov. 5 for the initial set of charges, Judge Jeff McElroy allowed the accused to return to school but ordered him to undergo a psychosocial assessment with Taos Behavioral Health.

Sanchez was unsure as of press time Wednesday if the assessment had been completed.

There was also an unexplained, albeit shorter delay in the second case.

The 17-year-old boy allegedly raped the second girl on Oct. 9, 2018. In that case, Taos Police Chief David Trujillo said his officers detained and charged the accused teenager on Feb. 1 with criminal sexual penetration in the second degree and criminal sexual contact of a minor in the fourth degree, both felonies.

At a first appearance in that case on Feb. 4, the male student was ordered to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, but was again allowed to return to the school, where he attends an after-school program.

Sanchez said on Wednesday that both girls who were allegedly raped have been removed from Taos High School by their parents and have transferred to other schools.

One of the reasons the girls withdrew, he believes, is because the 17-year-old boy had “too many friends,” which perhaps caused the girls to fear retaliation for coming forward.

Dr. Lillian Torrez, Superintendent of Taos Municipal Schools, indicated in a phone call this week that she had no knowledge of the allegations.

She later urged Taos High School Principal Robbie Trujillo in an email not to respond to an inquiry submitted by The Taos News.

“The Taos Municipal Schools, as a practice, does not comment on identifiable student discipline matters or pending reviews,” Torrez wrote in response to an email. “However, please know that the district takes all such allegations seriously.”

An adjudication hearing, which is similar to a jury trial in adult cases, had been scheduled for Feb. 18 for both cases. The hearing has been reset to April 15 at 9 a.m.

Ron Olsen, deputy district attorney with the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said that the state’s objective in juvenile cases that find a crime has been committed is to rehabilitate the offender. That sometimes means committing the individual to a residential treatment center for juveniles run by the state.

But with rape and murder cases, in particular, a judge may choose to seek punishments usually reserved for adults.

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