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Civil suit filed against former jail officer in sex assault

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Enock Arvizo isn’t set for trial until next spring on charges that he sexually assaulted inmates under his authority while he was a corrections officer at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

But a new civil lawsuit alleges jail and county officials were aware of Arviso’s history as far back as 2007, making them liable for actual and punitive damages of a female inmate allegedly sexually assaulted in a holding cell of the 2nd Judicial District Court.

The civil rights lawsuit was filed on behalf of Aubrianna Sanchez against Arvizo, MDC supervisors Conrad Armijo and Reyna McCann and the Bernalillo County commissioners.

MDC spokeswoman Nataura Powdrell said it is jail policy not to comment on pending litigation. Arvizo resigned after being arrested on the criminal charges. McCann and Armijo remain at MDC as supervisors.

According to the civil lawsuit filed by Santa Fe attorney Adam Baker, Sanchez was transported from the women’s prison in Grants to the jail in advance of a probation violation hearing in state court in March 2015, and then from the jail to court.

While Sanchez was waiting for her case to be called, the lawsuit says, she realized she’d left paperwork in the holding cell, and asked to be escorted back to get it.

According to the allegations, Arvizo kissed her on the lips, exposed himself and forced her to perform sexual acts – all while she was shackled and handcuffed – before taking her back. When she noticed his surname on his badge, she asked for his first name, and he allegedly said, “You’re not going to tell on me, are you?”

Sanchez initially did not, but she became concerned about a possible pregnancy and told an attorney about the incident three weeks later and ultimately disclosed the alleged rape to jail officials.

Arvizo was indicted in February by a grand jury on 11 counts of criminal sexual penetration of an inmate, criminal sexual contact, battery and assault. He entered a not guilty plea and was released on a $250,000 bond.

Last month, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office dismissed nine of the counts “due to the death of an essential witness and the need for further investigation.” Assistant Attorney General Greer Rose said the prosecution will proceed on the remaining nine charges.

District Judge Briana Zamora agreed with the defense that there should be separate trials for charges pertaining to each of the individual alleged victims. The first trial is set for May 8 and the final trial on Aug. 25.