Taos DA dismisses child molestation case, citing concerns over deadline

Prosecutors reluctant to make juvenile victims testify before public after alleged assault

By John Miller
jmiller@taosnews.com
Posted 1/29/19

The district attorney's office in Taos has dismissed a case alleging that a Questa man molested his girlfriend's daughter and battered the young girl's friend during a sleepover at a residence in …

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Taos DA dismisses child molestation case, citing concerns over deadline

Prosecutors reluctant to make juvenile victims testify before public after alleged assault

Posted

The district attorney's office in Taos has dismissed a case alleging a Questa man molested his girlfriend's daughter and battered the girl's friend during a sleepover at a residence in Peñasco this month.

Raymond M. Hernandez, 29, was charged with the crimes Jan. 14. While Hernandez was released in Taos Magistrate Court on an unsecured appearance bond the following day, he was arrested again to face charges for allegedly raping a 19-month-old at the home and a 5-year-old at a residence nearby.

In a motion to dismiss the Jan. 14 case, which the DA posted to Facebook Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 29), state prosecutor Tim Hasson noted that a preliminary examination would have to be held no later than Thursday (Jan. 31) in accordance with state rules, which allow 10 days when a defendant is still in custody.

Hasson reasoned that it would be too soon to ask the young victims to testify in a public setting.

"In this case, the alleged victims would have to testify," Hasson wrote. "The state will not require two young teenage girls to publicly testify, subject to cross-examination, about being sexually-assaulted, within weeks of those alleged assaults."

The charges in the case can be refiled at a later date, but the DA's office hadn't indicated whether they intend to do so as of late Tuesday evening.

District Attorney Donald Gallegos and his team were criticized last summer after they failed to hold a preliminary examination within the 10-day window for five adults arrested at a compound near Amalia.

Prosecutors have the option to file motions to hold defendants without bond in order to extend the deadline. If successful, the timing to hold a preliminary examination is pushed to 60 days. But Ron Olsen, a spokesperson for the DA, stated this week that his office didn't have the necessary documentation to do so. Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe, whose team is investigating the allegations, disagreed with that statement, saying his office filed all of the necessary documents according to their standard process.

Jail logs provided by the county Tuesday morning indicated that Hernandez was still being held at the Taos County Adult Detention Center on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old is scheduled for a first appearance related to the alleged rape of the 5-year-old on Thursday (Jan. 31) in magistrate court.

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