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Las Vegas police chief resigns after sexual abuse accusation

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The short, turbulent tenure of Las Vegas, N.M., Police Chief Jerry Delgado came to an end Wednesday when the chief turned in a letter of resignation.

Delgado’s resignation came after Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron ordered an internal inquiry into allegations that the chief had sexually abused young girls about 30 years ago.

Screenshots of a Facebook message were widely circulated in Las Vegas last week. The message was written by Las Vegas attorney Jennifer Sanchez, according to Sanchez’s wife, Jennifer Carbajal.

Carbajal told the Journal the private message was not intended for public release, and she doesn’t know who distributed screenshots of the message, but that Sanchez stands by the message’s content.

In the message, Sanchez, who served four years as an appointee of President Barack Obama to NASA, accused the chief of sexually assaulting her “for years,” beginning when she was 7 years old, which would have been about 30 years ago. Sanchez says in the message that another young girl told her that she had been abused by Delgado, too.

“I can’t stay silent any longer,” the message said. “I don’t want anyone else to go through the hell he put me through.” She said Delgado had threatened her life if she ever told anyone. Carbajal said Sanchez knew Delgado when she was a girl because he was friends with her elder brother.

Delgado, 49, a former State Police officer who just started as Las Vegas police chief at the beginning of October, did not respond to phone messages from the Journal since last week. But he released a statement to the Las Vegas Optic newspaper denying the allegations.

“I don’t know what anybody’s motivation would be to raise this malicious attack on me,” he wrote, adding that he had passed two background checks, two polygraph tests and an integrity test consisting of more than 200 questions. “I have had an honorable, stellar law enforcement career. I just want to serve the public.”

A local petition drive supporting Sanchez and demanding that Delgado “be held accountable” was started in Las Vegas this week.

Mayor Gurule-Giron told the Journal via email that the city conducted a pre-employment background check and nothing was found that would disqualify him. Court records show that Delgado pleaded guilty to domestic violence in 1992. He underwent counseling and was placed on probation.

Delgado, who has worked in law enforcement for 20 years, is also a defendant in an ongoing lawsuit. In that case, a 44-year-old woman with a traumatic brain injury claims she was roughed up by another State Police officer in Santa Fe County in 2016. Delgado was that officer’s supervisor and showed “an abject disregard for her health and safety,” the lawsuit says. State Police and Delgado have denied the allegations.

The complaint says the woman had seizures for 30 minutes as she lay handcuffed on the ground. It says that despite being told of the woman’s medical condition by the woman’s companions, the arresting officer and Delgado displayed “an abject disregard for her health and safety.”

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