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Defendant denies rape charges brought in suit

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Santa Fe man accused of raping a co-worker multiple times while the two worked as custodians at Capital High School denied the charges in a response to a lawsuit filed by the woman last month.

The law firm representing Bayron Sican, two of his co-workers and Maintenance Service Systems, an Albuquerque company that contracts with Santa Fe Public Schools to perform custodial work, issued the response last week, making a blanket denial of allegations.

Marta Umaña, a Guatemalan immigrant, claims Sican raped her three times, subjected her to other physical and verbal abuse, and scared her into keeping quiet about it while they worked together from August 2011 to April 2013.

“Ms. Umaña was terrified that she would be deported, that she would lose her job, that her marriage would suffer, and that her family would suffer,” the complaint states.

Umaña alleges that Sican made “crude remarks of a sexual nature,” and raped her three times.

The lawsuit says Umaña didn’t know to whom to complain because the company didn’t have sexual harassment reporting policies and because her male supervisor “helped to create and encourage the abusive environment.”

She claims she knew of only one policy given to employees, but it was written and explained in English, a language she doesn’t understand.

Umaña eventually did complain to a supervisor, but she says nothing was done in response. It wasn’t until she hired an attorney, who wrote a letter to MSS demanding action to ensure her safety, that the company took action. Days later, she was transferred to work at another school, which she says increased her commute by 20-30 minutes each way.

The defendants deny Umaña, who also filed charges of discrimination with the Human Rights Bureau of the state Department of Workforce Solutions, was retaliated against and assert that MSS does have a sexual harassment reporting policy.

The response from Albuquerque attorney Repps D. Stanford states: “Defendants exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any alleged discriminatory or retaliatory behavior and Plaintiff failed to take advantage of the preventative or corrective opportunities provided by Defendants or to otherwise avoid harm to herself.”

The school district spokeswoman, Latifah Phillips, said Tuesday that SFPS asked MSS to transfer Sican to another position outside the school district. MSS performs custodial services for 19 of the district’s 33 public and charter schools.

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