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Las Vegas NM man charged with two more rapes of women released from psychiatric hospital

LAS VEGAS, NM — A man accused of preying on women released from the state psychiatric hospital has been charged with raping two more women.

The new charges against Benjamin Baca, 75, of Las Vegas, bring to four the number of women that Baca is accused of raping after they were released from the Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas and moved into area boarding homes.

Benjamin Baca

Benjamin Baca

He is charged with committing battery against a fifth woman and exposing himself to her.  State prosecutors filed the additional charges Wednesday in Magistrate Court. Baca now faces 15 counts of criminal sexual penetration, five counts of criminal sexual contact, two counts of battery, one count of kidnapping and one count of indecent exposure.

At a preliminary hearing in the case scheduled for Tuesday in Magistrate Court, a judge will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to put Baca on trial. His attorney couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

Baca has been jailed since the initial charges were filed against him in March. A judge set bail at $100,000 cash only, in part because of his criminal history of violence and drugs. He pleaded guilty in 2000 to charges of aggravated assault against a household member and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He pleaded guilty in 2013 to possession of a controlled substance.

Baca is accused of forcing the four women to perform oral sex on him at his home or in his truck, sometimes while parked at a cemetery. Two women said Baca bought them cigarettes; a third said he gave her $20 to $30 and bought her sodas in exchange for oral sex.

For years, Baca cruised the streets of Las Vegas in a gray Ford pickup, befriending mentally ill women in boarding homes, according to managers of two homes.

According to a statement of probable cause filed in Baca’s case Wednesday by prosecutors, the operator of a boarding home said a resident told her about three years ago that Baca had forced her to perform oral sex. Another boarding home manager told the Journal that she became concerned about Baca four or five years ago and told him to stay away from her residents.

The case against Baca presents challenges for the prosecution because of the mental illnesses of the women. The women’s cognitive abilities are affected by their illnesses, according to the statement of probable cause filed in the case.