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Santa Fe child rape case against ex-coach ends in mistrial

SANTA FE – A jury could not come to an agreement on whether a man charged with criminal sexual penetration and criminal sexual contact of a minor was guilty, causing a mistrial.

District Attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco said in a message later that her office would “absolutely” retry the case.

Sevedeo Lujan, 54, a former youth basketball and football coach who also was once a foster parent, was arrested in July 2013 after an 11-year-old relative told her father that Lujan touched her inappropriately.

Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Jason Lidyard gave the prosecution’s version of the events that transpired in April 2012 between Lujan and the alleged victim, who was 10 at the time.

Sevedeo Lujan

Sevedeo Lujan

Lidyard said that while Lujan and the victim were watching TV at her mother’s house one night, the girl asked Lujan to scratch her back.

While doing so, Lujan moved down her back and started scratching her buttocks, according to Lidyard.

Despite the girl’s efforts to fight him off, Lujan sexually assaulted her with his hand while saying “Tickle, tickle,” Lidyard said. He said the assault stopped when the victim’s mother’s boyfriend knocked on the door. “The defendant grabs a cigarette, walks outside, and acts like nothing happened, as he does in the days to come,” Lidyard told the Journal.

The girl waited more than a year before reporting the crime to her father while they were driving home one night in July 2013. Her parents then reported Lujan to police.

The girl gave her account of the encounter with Lujan in court Tuesday.

Lidyard earlier had pleaded with the jury to pay very close attention to her testimony. “I ask that you evaluate her,” Lidyard said. “Watch her demeanor. Watch as she tells you her story as to what happened and determine if she is telling the truth.”

Lujan’s attorney, Santiago Juarez, wanted the jury to look for flaws in the evidence. “I’m concerned about evidence,” Juarez said. “What is the evidence that’s going to be produced here? What is the context of what’s being said? When all the evidence is in, we will come back and say the government has not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The jury met for an hour Tuesday night and deliberated for about five hours on Wednesday.