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Doña Ana County undersheriff fired amid sexual harassment scandal

LAS CRUCES – Ken Roberts has been fired from his position as Doña Ana County Undersheriff amid a sexual harassment scandal.

Roberts’ firing was announced late Tuesday afternoon by Sheriff Enrique “Kiki” Vigil.

“After further internal review and consideration of the extenuating circumstances, Mr. Ken Roberts has been relieved of all duties as Undersheriff and has been terminated as an employee of the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, effective immediately,” Vigil said in a statement.

“I cannot condone this type of behavior under any circumstances, and will do all that I can to ensure that the sheriff’s office is free of sexual harassment or any other type of misconduct,” Vigil added.

Vigil, who is seeking a second four-year term as sheriff, declined to answer additional questions.

The move capped Roberts’ brief tenure as second-in-command at the sheriff’s office. He was appointed to the undersheriff position in August 2016.

In late November, Roberts was placed on paid administrative leave after being accused of sexual misconduct by two female subordinates.

Last month, Vigil publicly addressed the allegations for the first time and announced the findings of an independent investigation into the allegations.

One of the claims was substantiated, Vigil said. As a result, Roberts was given a 10-day suspension without pay but was allowed to keep his position as undersheriff.

Meanwhile, the woman at the center of the claim that was substantiated filed a temporary restraining order against Roberts, whom she described as “Hitler-like.”

In the petition for the protective order, she recounted a 2017 encounter with Roberts who “went over to where I was sitting and he sat in my lap” and “wiggled on me as if to settle on my lap.”

When asked about the woman’s claim, Roberts said he did not remember the incident, but also said the coworker would not have any reason to lie. His testimony was one reason the charge was substantiated.

In December and January, county officials released multiple complaints and grievances against Roberts filed by co-workers alleging malfeasance dating back to 2009. Roberts had been employed with the sheriff’s since 2008.