Guilty plea adds six years to child abuser's sentence - Albuquerque Journal

Guilty plea adds six years to child abuser’s sentence

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

A man convicted in 2019 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for forcing his children to beg for money to fund his drug habit had six years added to his sentence this week after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of child abuse.

James Stewart, 41, was convicted by a jury in 2019 of three counts of human trafficking for crimes a District Court judge described as “incredible and horrendous neglect.”

Witnesses at his trial testified that Stewart abused three children in his household, including a stepson and two younger biological children.

At trial, Stewart’s teenage stepson testified that he, his mother and younger siblings panhandled for hours most days, often while Stewart sat in a car.

This week, 2nd Judicial District Judge Cindy Leos accepted Stewart’s guilty plea to seven counts of child abuse, said Collin Brennan, an assistant attorney general.

Leos sentenced Stewart to 21 years in prison, with all but six years to run concurrent with his existing 20-year sentence, Brennan said. The new sentence extends Stewart’s total prison term to 26 years.

James Stewart

Stewart first came to the attention of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office in November 2017 when teachers at Lew Wallace Elementary School reported that his daughter, then 7, showed signs of abuse.

The AG’s office had recently offered a seminar at the school to train teachers how to spot warning signs of human trafficking and abuse among their students.

Teachers reported that the children came to school filthy, hungry and sleep-deprived.

An instructional coach testified at trial that Stewart was hostile when school personnel offered additional academic help for the kids.

Stewart’s two biological children have since been adopted and are thriving, Brennan said.

“They have been adopted by a really good family that we still keep in contact with, and they’re doing great,” he said. “They look like completely different children than when we first saw them.”

Stewart’s stepson now is 18, he said.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said he will seek funding in the upcoming legislative session to enhance prosecution of human trafficking and violence against children.

“This case triggered calls to improve reporting and intervention for children,” Balderas said in a written statement. “The state must provide more resources to our teachers so we can protect the children of New Mexico.”

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Guilty plea adds six years to child abuser’s sentence


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Rio Rancho police seek suspect in officer-involved shooting
ABQnews Seeker
  Rio Rancho police say they ...   Rio Rancho police say they are looking for an 'armed and dangerous' individual in a stolen vehicle who was part of an officer-involved ...
2
A trying time for trout
ABQnews Seeker
Wildfires prompt fish rescues in NM ... Wildfires prompt fish rescues in NM habitats
3
Legislation expected to revive US technology
ABQnews Seeker
New CHIPS Act can help seed ... New CHIPS Act can help seed industry expansion in NM and elsewhere
4
New Mexico seeks proposals to use $10 million mine ...
ABQnews Seeker
Projects should benefit farming, outdoor recreation ... Projects should benefit farming, outdoor recreation or natural resources in NW New Mexico
5
First baby gorilla born at ABQ BioPark Zoo in ...
ABQnews Seeker
Gender reveal will come when Mom ... Gender reveal will come when Mom Samantha lets keepers get a closer look at her baby
6
Congress OKs Dems' climate, health bill, a Biden triumph
ABQnews Seeker
A divided Congress gave final approval ... A divided Congress gave final approval Friday to Democrats' flagship climate and health care bill, handing President Joe Biden a back-from-the-dead triumph on coveted ...
7
APD releases IDs, gives updates on six homicides in ...
ABQnews Seeker
Victims were three men and three ... Victims were three men and three women
8
Accused drunken driver who hit Gallup parade-goers held until ...
ABQnews Seeker
Motorist faces charges of aggravated DWI, ... Motorist faces charges of aggravated DWI, leaving the scene of an accident
9
Mosquitoes with West Nile virus detected in Albuquerque area
ABQnews Seeker
Environmental and health officials in the ... Environmental and health officials in the Albuquerque area say they have found mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus. The City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department ...