Lawsuit accuses former Espanola mayor of sexual abuse
ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — A former longtime mayor of a northern New Mexico city has been accused of sexually abusing the son of a former employee.
A lawsuit filed against Richard Lucero of Espanola says he began abusing the boy in the mid-1980s when the child worked for him at his farm supply store. The lawsuit says the victim’s mother had worked for Lucero in city government and that the former mayor had arranged for her son to regularly stay at his home on Fridays so that he could start work early on Saturday mornings at his store.
It was during those stays that Lucero’s advances toward the boy began, according to the lawsuit. It accuses Lucero of asking the boy for foot massages in the room where the boy stayed, and joining the boy when he was in the shower.
When the boy rejected Lucero’s sexual advances, he was told his mother could lose her job, the lawsuit said.
“Edward feared for his mother’s job and for his own job, and he feared the power and standing of Mr. Lucero,” attorneys said in the lawsuit.
Lucero served a total of 22 years between 1968 and 2006 as mayor of Espanola, a city of about 10,000 people north of Santa Fe.
He did not immediately respond to a message left at his store Friday in Espanola seeking comment in response to the lawsuit. Online court records did not yet list a defense attorney in the lawsuit.
Lucero denied the allegations in an interview with the Rio Grande Sun newspaper in Espanola earlier this week.
The victim is now in his 40s.
His attorney said in court documents that he disclosed the abuse to a jail counselor three years ago.
Before 2016, the man had never discussed it, the lawsuit said. He was being held at the time at the Santa Fe County Detention Center on drug-related charge.
He blames Lucero for his delinquency.
He also said Lucero had led an Explorers group affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, and that the former mayor invited him to join it when he was a youth. The lawsuit accuses Lucero of providing alcohol during the Explorers gatherings, and taking the victim on both group-related and private trips.
The travel included trips to Disney World in Florida, Texas and Las Vegas.
Boy Scouts of America is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. A request for comment from the top-ranking executive for the Boy Scouts’ Great Southwest Council was not immediately returned.
In Espanola, the grounds of the Richard L. Lucero Recreation Center include the public library and swimming pool.