Santa Fe mayor denies sex assault alleged by a relative
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Outgoing Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales is denying allegations of decades-old sexual assault that have been reported to authorities by a female relative.
Gonzales in a statement this week called the allegations slanderous, saying they have been harmful to him and his family.
“I have not seen a report or even been contacted by the State Police,” said Gonzales, 51. “This is only meant to do one thing, drag me through the mud without due process.”
The former head of the state Democratic Party and Santa Fe’s first openly gay mayor, Gonzales also characterized the claims as being part of a political attack by his critics.
Gonzales, whose mayoral term ends next month, had announced earlier this week that he was ending his bid to seek the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. He had said his heart was not in the race and that he planned to return to the private sector.
Blair Dunn, an Albuquerque attorney who represents the woman who made the allegations, said his client is cooperating with authorities but declined to comment further until state police finish an investigation.
According to a police report, the woman told authorities the alleged sexual contact began when she was 8 years old. She said several people knew about the incidents but they were never reported to law enforcement.
The allegations have been swirling for years. Gonzales acknowledged that they were raised during divorce proceedings in which he and his ex-wife feuded over custody of their two daughters. Gonzales was eventually awarded custody of the girls.
Gonzales said the courts determined the allegations were false then and “they are still false today.”
State Police Lt. Elizabeth Armijo confirmed Thursday that a woman came forward with allegations that she had been sexually assaulted from the late 1970s into the early 1980s. Armijo declined to name the alleged suspect because no charges have been filed.
State police planned to move forward with an investigation after consulting with the district attorney’s office about concerns with the statute of limitations.
A member of a prominent political family, Gonzales followed in the footsteps of his father when he was elected mayor in 2014. He has been most outspoken on immigration issues, gaining attention last year for his defiance of President Donald Trump’s executive order to revoke funding for cities that don’t fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Gonzales also pushed environmental friendly policies as mayor and faced criticism for a failed effort to raise taxes on sugary beverages.
His political career started at 27, when he was elected to the first of two terms on the Santa Fe County Commission.
Gonzales went on to serve as the chair of the state Democratic Party for four years and was appointed by then-Gov. Bill Richardson to serve as a regent for New Mexico State University and New Mexico Highlands University.