Charges dismissed against Carl Trujillo
On Nov. 27, the New Mexico Legislature dismissed each and every sexual harassment charge against Rep. Carl Trujillo.
All charges were dropped because the only person who ever claimed that Trujillo acted inappropriately — lobbyist Laura Bonar — refused to be cross-examined under oath and willfully withheld records that might contradict her claims.
Turns out it’s easy to make accusations on the internet but harder to answer questions under penalty of perjury.
Bonar now claims by editorial letter that she refused to be cross-examined because she was trying to protect others.
Bonar made this same excuse before the charges were dismissed.
The retired judge appointed by the Legislature to decide evidentiary disputes already rejected that: “my ruling … in no way required her to disclose confidential communications she may have had with others about their allegations against him or anyone else.” See 11/26/18 Omnibus Order. So why did Bonar really refuse to testify under oath?
Perhaps she realized that we intended to ask her pointed questions about why her story has changed so many times.
For example, Bonar alleged that, in 2014, Trujillo walked by her in the corridor, “grabbed her arm” and asked “when can we meet?” Bonar repeatedly emphasized to investigators how this alleged incident made her “afraid for [her] personal safety” and that it caused to her have “nightmares,” and she couldn’t sleep, etc.
But when we cross-examined her then-live-in partner, Gene Grant, he gave a completely different story.
Grant was asked: “Did she tell you she was fearful for personal safety?”
Grant testified under oath: “No, she never alluded to that. Not at all. If she had said she was fearful for her physical safety, I would have stepped into the situation.”
Perhaps Bonar refused to testify under oath because her objective was to publicly embarrass Trujillo so that he would lose his primary election — a “goal” she admits she accomplished long ago with a simple internet post.
Unlike Bonar, Trujillo never ran from this process. Trujillo was cross-examined under oath, voluntarily produced his private communications and even took a lie detector test to try to prove his innocence — which shows how upside down this process became.
Our justice system is supposed to presume innocence, but this Legislative process (and those reporting on it) acted as if Trujillo had to prove that he didn’t harass Bonar five years ago — an impossible burden.
As painful as it was for him and his family, Trujillo showed up for every hearing and endured all manner of deeply personal attacks so that he could have a public hearing.
Having already lost his primary election, Trujillo could have simply resigned from the Legislature and ended proceedings entirely. But Trujillo didn’t resign. Unlike Bonar, he engaged in the process. Trujillo tried to do the right thing at great personal, financial and political costs.
Bonar continues to attack Trujillo, but only in the media. She writes that there were “allegations from multiple accusers against Mr. Trujillo,” which we believe to be false. Bonar claims that her “account was corroborated by multiple witnesses. …”
To the contrary, testimony of the other witnesses only showed that every time Bonar told her story, she told a different version. There is not a single person other than Bonar who claims to have witnessed any inappropriate behavior by Trujillo. These other witnesses only testified as to what Bonar told them (hearsay), and she said different things. These hearsay witnesses “corroborated” nothing.
When the Legislature adopted its Anti-Harassment Policy earlier this year, it did so admirably. But the Legislature must do better to protect the rights of those accused, otherwise this policy will continue to be used as a political weapon, which will only demean and minimize true victims of harassment.
Travis G. Jackson and Eric Loman of Jackson, Loman, Stanford, & Downey, P.C., are counsel for state Rep. Carl Trujillo.