The final two suspects involved in the Valencia High School sexual hazing case pleaded no contest to aggravated battery charges Thursday in Valencia County District Court.
Jake Sanchez and Jeremiah Carroll, both now 19, pleaded no contest to aggravated battery, a lesser charge than what they had been charged with for their role in the hazing case. They are expected to be sentenced as juveniles in the next 30 days.
The aggravated battery allegation was a new charge that was not included in the original grand jury indictment.
The men, along with Curtis Peralta, were indicted on charges of criminal sexual penetration and conspiracy after the three were accused of holding down a varsity football teammate and rubbing his bare buttocks in October 2010.
The former Valencia High students and football players are accused of sexually assaulting another member of the school’s football team while he was getting dressed after practice.
The 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office offered Sanchez and Carroll plea deals in exchange for dismissing the remaining charges against them.
District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said his office initially thought there was enough evidence to prosecute on charges of criminal sexual penetration.
“The reason we (amended the charges) is because we really don’t believe these (people) are sexual predators,” Martinez said. “We believe that it was like a one-time thing that occurred on the football team. What we wanted the whole time is for them to take responsibility for what they did.”
Martinez said the pleas removed the possibility that they would have to register as sex offenders had they been found guilty at trial.
Sanchez and Carroll could face penalties that range from probation to being taken into the custody of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department until they are 21.
Peralta in August 2011 pleaded guilty to two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in a plea and disposition agreement with the district attorney. He is to be sentenced as an adult in November. Each charge carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal