Taos DA secures grand jury indictment against accused child molester

Original case dismissed to avoid making juvenile victims testify in a public hearing

By John Miller
jmiller@taosnews.com
Posted 1/31/19

The 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office has secured an indictment from a Taos grand jury which found sufficient probable cause on Thursday (Jan. 31) to suggest 29-year-old Raymond Hernandez …

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Taos DA secures grand jury indictment against accused child molester

Original case dismissed to avoid making juvenile victims testify in a public hearing

Posted

Updated: 7:35 p.m.

A Taos grand jury found probable cause on Thursday (Jan. 31) to suggest 29-year-old Raymond Hernandez molested one teenage girl and battered another the morning of Jan. 12.

The grand jury indicted Hernandez, who is from Questa, on one count of criminal sexual contact of a minor, one count of battery and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Court documents filed by the Taos County Sheriff's Office indicate Hernandez sexually assaulted his girlfriend's daughter and battered the other young girl, who had come to their home for a sleepover.

The 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office presented evidence that led to the indictment less than 48 hours after a prosecutor had dismissed the original case filing in Taos Magistrate Court, drawing criticism from the public.

In the motion to dismiss, case prosecutor Tim Hasson expressed concerns about having the two young victims testify in a public setting so soon after the alleged assault occurred. Hasson noted the state's option to refile charges or seek a grand jury indictment in the motion, but did not clearly express that his office planned to do so.

AfterThe Taos News print deadline on Wednesday (Jan. 30), Deputy District Attorney Ron Olsen said the office would be seeking the indictment, describing it as the most effective way to present evidence in the case, including hearsay and victim testimony,  gathered during the investigation.

Presenting victim testimony in a public setting, he said, could prove detrimental to the case.

"Such testimony can place enormous stress on victims and have the unintended consequence of discouraging victims, particularly sexual assault victims, from reporting crime and from further participation in the trial process," Olsen wrote Wednesday afternoon, further explaining why a grand jury indictment in the case was preferable to a public preliminary hearing.

Olsen said that the grand jury format would also allow greater scheduling flexibility for testimony from other witnesses, including law enforcement, forensic interviewers and medical staff trained to detect signs of sexual assault on a victim.

Thursday's indictment was based upon testimony from Taos County Sheriff's Detective Marvin Armijo and Sgt. Eugene Holgate, who investigated the allegations in Peñasco this month.

Following the indictment, a bench warrant was issued for Hernandez's arrest. Jail logs submitted by the county on Thursday morning, however, indicated Hernandez was still being held at the Taos County Adult Detention Center.

Hernandez was arrested two other times in January – once for the alleged rape of a 19-month-old girl, who lives at the same residence where the assault and battery occurred, and later for the alleged rape of another child, a 5-year-old girl, at a neighbor's residence. 

He was released twice in Taos Magistrate Court on an unsecured appearance bond prior to his most recent arrest this week. Olsen said the alleged rapes took place prior to the first time Hernandez was released.

While the case alleging the rape of the 5-year-old was dismissed on Thursday, the rape case against the younger child was still pending in magistrate court.

Hernandez was still in the county detention center Thursday night, according to Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe.

This is a developing story.

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