Santa Fe mayor accused of assault, DA says - Albuquerque Journal

Santa Fe mayor accused of assault, DA says

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales is running for lieutenant governor. (Courtesy KOAT)

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – District Attorney Marco Serna confirmed this week that the State Police have informed him they received an allegation of sexual assault against Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales.

According to a State Police report, a woman said she was assaulted more than 30 years ago, when she was a child, but the report does not include the name of the alleged assailant. The woman, who is a relative of Gonzales’, was named in the report.

Responding to questions from the Journal about the woman’s allegations, Gonzales, 51, said in an emailed statement that they have been around for years and were determined to be false during his divorce proceedings. They are “slanderous and hurtful to me and my family,” he said.

Gonzales also connected the report to fringe political players in Santa Fe. He named Roger Rael – who is known for inflammatory posts and has spoken at City Council meetings while wearing a gun in a shoulder holster – and the Santa Fe’s Voice group, which under another name set off controversy last year when it posted a racist meme about African-American U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California.

In response to a Journal records request, the State Police released a report dated Jan. 9 in which a relative of Gonzales’ said she wanted to make a report on “a high-profile case about a political entity” regarding rape or sexual contact that took place at her parents’ house between 1980 and 1985. The incidents began when she was 8 years old and ended when she was about 14 years old, according to her account.

The woman “stated several people knew about the incidents however it was never reported to law enforcement,” the report says. Efforts over the past two days to reach the woman who made the accusations were unsuccessful.

State Police refused to name the suspect in the case. “Please be patient while we work on this investigation, as no further details will be released until the investigation has been completed,” officer Ray Wilson said in an email.

But District Attorney Serna said State Police told him they had received a complaint about Gonzales.

“State Police did contact us, but they didn’t have anything to tell us,” he said Wednesday. “All they said is that they have an allegation.”

When a Journal reporter submitted a question to State Police about whether the agency was investigating Gonzales for reported molestation from 30 and 40 years ago, Wilson responded with an email that, without naming Gonzales, said the agency is investigating an individual regarding allegations “from a woman alleging she had been sexually assaulted from the late 1970s into the early 1980s.

“We have consulted with the District Attorney’s Office to ensure there are no concerns with the statute of limitations concerning these allegations. The New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau will be moving forward with this investigation.”

Gonzales issued this statement Thursday:

“These reports are slanderous and hurtful to me and my family, and they are entirely without merit or truth.

“I have not seen a report or even been contacted by the State Police. This is only meant to do one thing, drag me through the mud without due process. It’s one more part of a disgusting political attack pushed by people like Roger Rael and Santa Fe Voice.

“These claims also aren’t new. They have been around since my divorce in attempts to hurt me and my kids. The courts determined they were false then and they are still false today.”

City Hall confrontation

Rael, who has spurred complaints and attracted police attention by going to City Council meetings with a holstered gun, left the council’s Jan. 31 session under the watchful eye of officers after he confronted Gonzales with sexual assault allegations during the public comment period.

“I’d like to know if these allegations are true that you sexually assaulted a member of your family,” Rael shouted at the mayor three times before being approached by a police officer. “Yes or no? Answer the question.”

Rael was back to speak at the public forum at Wednesday’s council meeting. Though the mayor was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, one of Santa Fe’s Sister Cities, Rael thanked Gonzales for announcing Tuesday that he was abandoning a bid to run for lieutenant governor.

“Not only should Javier not be our lieutenant governor; he should have to resign as mayor of Santa Fe for criminal acts for which he’s under investigation,” he said. Gonzales announced last fall that he would not seek re-election as mayor in the March 6 city elections.

Rael’s past Facebook posts or re-posts have included memes promoting theories that former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton, are behind murders and portraying U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in a Nazi uniform.

Online court records show that State Police charged Rael with using a telephone to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend in Raton Magistrate Court in 2016. That case was dismissed due to lack of prosecution. Rael is a defendant in another case out of Raton in which he is accused of owing a business $3,500 on purchases made in 2014.

Santa Fe’s Voice, also cited by the mayor, emerged first under the name Santa Fe Power among opponents of a tax on sugary drinks proposed by Gonzales to fund early childhood education. The tax was on the ballot in a May special election. The soda tax was soundly rejected by voters after a campaign in which opponents and supporters spent a combined $4 million.

By Thursday afternoon, Santa Fe’s Voice had several posts on its Facebook page about a news story on the allegations against Gonzales. After the Journal reached out to Gloria Mendoza, a community activist who has been associated with the group, Santa Fe’s Voice responded with a long statement. Part of it said, “As for many, these allegations came as a total shock, and for some not so shocking. Javier Gonzales has been protected by his family as well as friends and political colleagues. Unfortunately for him, the victims (sic) family members will not continue to protect him any longer. What he allegedly did to his family member is plain evil and for him to deny and try to blame others, is disgusting.”

The group added that Gonzales “deserves due process as all citizens should” and that the alleged victim “also has every right to press charges.”

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