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Lobo basketball guard Caldwell accused of battery

University of New Mexico point guard J.J. Caldwell, with the basketball, is shown during action earlier this season. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

University of New Mexico men’s basketball point guard J.J. Caldwell remains on indefinite suspension as the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office reviews an allegation of battery against an ex-girlfriend earlier this month.

Lobo teammate Carlton Bragg Jr. also remains on indefinite suspension, but the Journal has been told by sources his matter is unrelated to Caldwell’s. UNM continues, however, to say it won’t comment on the nature of either player’s suspension, the circumstances around the suspensions or when the players might return, if ever.

The Journal has confirmed Bragg’s matter is neither academic nor drug-related in nature.

As of Friday afternoon, according to UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez, both players remain members of the Lobo basketball team and are still enrolled in the university.

“J.J. is innocent and we ask the public to withhold judgment until all the facts can be heard in a fair forum,” said Caldwell’s attorney Paul Kennedy, who along with Justine Fox-Young is representing the 22-year-old Houston native. “We are confident when the truth can be brought to light, he will ultimately be vindicated.”

Neither player has been charged with a crime, though according to a report obtained by the Journal, “a summons to appear will be sought” for Caldwell as the investigation progresses into the allegation made on Dec. 16.

A spokesman confirmed the case has been referred to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office and it is “under review.” The initial police report classifies the battery against a household member allegation as a misdemeanor, but the District Attorney’s Office reviewing the evidence would ultimately decide on what charge, if any, to pursue in the case.

UNM, meanwhile, is also reviewing protocol as allegations of the woman and Caldwell having a potentially violent past, beginning prior to the season, were reported to members of the athletic department — but never to police prior to this month.

And on Friday evening, the 22-year-old woman who filed the complaint spoke with the Journal saying the police report, which was both forwarded to the DA’s Office and used in reporting this article, has inaccuracies. The woman said she in fact has obtained a restraining order against Caldwell despite the police report indicating she has not. She also took exception to the police report indicating she did not have visible markings consistent with the injuries she described from the incident.

According to an Albuquerque Police Department report filed Dec. 16, the woman told police she and Caldwell, whom she described as an ex-boyfriend, saw each other at Posh Nightclub the night of Dec. 14 and began to argue. She told police she and Caldwell then left the club together and argued outside, where Caldwell pushed her against a vehicle, and then he left to go home.

The woman then took a Lyft ride to her friend’s apartment in the same complex where Caldwell lives. When her friend wasn’t responding to calls, she went to Caldwell’s apartment, where they argued again.

The report states the woman “said (Caldwell) struck her in the face several times with an open hand … then grabbed her by both arms and pushed her up against a wall … then took his hands off her arms and applied them to her neck and strangled her.” She told police her airway was not obstructed, she never lost consciousness and the two then stopped fighting. She later left when Caldwell fell asleep, the report states.

“Let it be noted that I observed minor bruising on (the woman’s) arms,” the reporting officer wrote in the report. “She had no visible injury to her face where she said (Caldwell) struck her and no signs of strangulation on her neck.”

The woman told the Journal she did, in fact, have visible injuries after the incident.

The APD reporting officer also wrote: “(The woman) would not advise why she did not call police immediately and waited two days before reporting the incident.”

The report also notes that on Dec. 3, in a separate report, the woman told police of the interaction with Caldwell from before the season. She was advised to get a restraining order, but she did not do so.

She told the Journal that is not true and she does have an active restraining order with Caldwell.

UNM has not commented on the details of what it knew of the allegation from before the season and hasn’t said when it plans to do so.

Records requests for the case have been filed with UNM, which has a note posted on its public records request home page that the office is closed until Jan. 2.

Attempts via social media to reach both players for comment went unreturned on Friday, though Kennedy reached out on behalf of Caldwell. UNM has not made either available to the media.

Caldwell and Bragg both were suspended prior to last Sunday’s 107-88 home win over Houston Baptist. Each had played in the previous 13 games for the 12-2 Lobos, who host UC Davis this coming Sunday at 2 p.m.

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