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Lawsuit: Ex-Las Cruces officer has troubled past

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A former detective who admitted to a sexual assault of a high school girl interning with the Las Cruces Police Department had a history of sexual misconduct, new federal lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, Michael Garcia, 38, had sex in his police car with another Las Cruces officer’s girlfriend and admitted to drinking wine in his police car, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

The lawsuit filed this month also claimed Garcia engaged in “sexual banter” with other male officers and supervisors in front of the high school student.

Shannon Kennedy, an attorney for the high school teen, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court earlier this month, said the “accumulation of bizarre complaints” against Garcia paint a picture of a man with numerous “pathologies” and “boundary issues.”

Las Cruces police spokesman Dan Trujillo and City Attorney Harry “Pete” Connelly declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Earlier this month, Garcia pleaded guilty to criminally violating the civil rights of the teenage girl during a May 2011 ride-along.

Garcia, who resigned days after his August 2013 arrest, was at the time a veteran Las Cruces Police Department detective, specializing in child abuse cases. The young woman was a student working with the police department through the public schools’ Excel program.

Las Cruces police officials received two other complaints against Garcia, both detailed in the lawsuit.

The first, leveled that January, said Garcia threatened the ex-husband of his girlfriend during a custody exchange, barking to the man, “you better watch your back and your car.” Two months later a new complaint said Garcia was having sex with a convicted felon. It is unclear to whom the complaint was referring.

At the time those complaints were filed, Garcia was already supervising the teenage girl, along with two other detectives.

Investigators reportedly learned that Garcia is HIV positive, the lawsuit states.

Garcia’s attorney Steven Almanza did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.