SANTA FE – Yet another Pecos High School boys basketball coach has been charged with sex crimes involving girls, one of whom was in sixth grade at the time of the alleged offense.
Joshua G. Rico, 24, has been charged with 10 felony counts that include sexual exploitation of a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, extortion and three counts of criminal penetration of a child 13 to 18 years old.
The alleged incidents involved four girls and took place over a period of years, dating back to when Rico was a senior at Pecos High School during the 2013-14 school year and continuing through last month.
That means the incidents were alleged to have taken place during the same time period as another PHS boys basketball coach, Dominick Baca, was engaged in sex crimes with girls at the school.
In November, the 30-year-old Baca pleaded guilty to four felony sex charges as part of a plea deal related to incidents involving two high school girls that took place in 2017 and 2018. Baca is awaiting sentencing.
Pecos Independent School District Superintendent Fred Trujillo did not return a phone message from the Journal on Monday, instead issuing a statement concerning the latest allegations.
“When the district was made aware of the allegations against Joshua Rico, the district immediately contacted law enforcement and terminated his employment as an employee of the district,” he wrote in an email. “The district made the initial contact with law enforcement regarding the matter, and it continues to cooperate with them in the investigation.”
Boys basketball coach Ira Harge Jr., who has led the Panthers to three straight Class 2A state championships, did not immediately respond to a phone message from the Journal on Tuesday.
According to the affidavit for Rico’s arrest, New Mexico State Police were called to the high school on Jan. 23 and spoke with a 14-year-old girl who said she and Rico, who was using an alias, had been exchanging explicit photos of themselves for about a year. She reported the incidents after receiving an ultimatum from the anonymous predator, threatening to expose her if she did not perform oral sex on Rico.
When officers talked to Rico, he admitted that he “accidentally” sent a photo of his private parts to the girl through Snapchat, according to the affidavit.
Police seized Rico’s cellphone which contained several hundred photos and videos.
“It became apparent that Rico had been victimizing several other minor females via Snapchat in the same manner,” the affidavit states.
Three other girls confirmed to police that they had been similarly victimized, one of them acknowledging she had engaged in a sex act with Rico. Another girl told police she had been digitally penetrated by him.
The sexual penetration incidents allegedly took place in Rico’s truck and at his grandparent’s house in Pecos.
A fourth girl said she blocked Rico on Snapchat after receiving explicit photos from him when she was in sixth grade and Rico was a senior at Pecos High.
Rico was arrested by State Police on Friday, Valentine’s Day.
On Tuesday, the 4th Judicial District Attorney filed a motion to keep Rico in custody until trial.