Lab tests have detected male DNA on three pairs of stained and soiled underwear belonging to a 7-year-old girl who authorities say was being sex-trafficked by a relative, according to court documents.
James Stewart, 37, is facing charges including human trafficking, promoting prostitution, child abuse and criminal sexual contact of a minor. Stewart’s wife, Teri Sanchez, is accused of child abuse.
In a motion filed last week, Assistant Attorney General Brittany Duchaussee asked a judge for permission to retrieve a DNA sample from Stewart that the state lab can compare to the profile found on the girl’s clothing.
Duchaussee wrote that special agents executed a search warrant in May on a storage unit that Stewart had stopped paying for. Agents found three pairs of “child-sized underwear,” including one with a Little Mermaid pattern, in bags left on the floor.
The garments were sent to the state Department of Public Safety Forensic Laboratories, which later reported that male DNA was found on all three pairs, but semen was not detected.
The DNA “was not in sufficient quantity for conventional DNA testing,” and to move ahead, the state must provide a known standard, according to the motion.
The motion quotes a portion of a May interview with special agents in which Stewart said he would provide a DNA sample.
“If they want to take any DNA, that’s fine. I give my permission,” Stewart said, according to the motion. “Take my frickin’ DNA, and I guarantee you, mine’s not going to match up with any of that (expletive). I didn’t do the crime.”
Stewart’s attorney, Stefanie Gulley, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Authorities say Stewart was prostituting the child in exchange for “weed and pipes and other stuff.”
The AG’s Office launched its investigation in April after a school nurse reported that she thought the girl was exhibiting signs of trafficking and sexual assault.
In an April safe house interview, the girl said Stewart made her touch other adults inappropriately.
A school employee said the girl came to school dirty and smelling of urine in November, and when she helped the girl change into clean clothes, she noticed blood in the crotch of her underwear. An Albuquerque Police Department officer threw the underwear into a school dumpster, saying it was not useful as evidence.
Other school employees described seeing hickies on the child’s neck and chest.
Stewart and Sanchez had ties to Cornelius Galloway, who is facing federal sex trafficking charges, and the child used to stay with him for days at a time, prosecutors said. She would return home from those visits with swollen genitals, they said.
In a statement Tuesday, a spokesman for the attorney general said that the office is “committed to using every available resource to seek justice in this matter and in all cases involving sexual abuse of a child.”
State District Judge Brett Loveless will hear arguments on the request for DNA during a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 18.