- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) - A judge denied a motion Thursday to dismiss incest charges against a New Mexico mother who is accused of having a romantic relationship with her 19-year-old son.

The decision handed down in a brief letter sets the stage for Monica Mares‘ trial to begin next week in Clovis, where authorities say she was living with her 19-year-old son, Caleb Peterson.

Mares put up Peterson for adoption when he was an infant, and the two recently reunited. After the son moved into his mother’s home, the relationship became romantic and sexual in nature, authorities said.

The Clovis News Journal reports (http://bit.ly/2elTgNH) that Judge Drew Tatum’s decision not to dismiss the case comes a day after she appeared in court, with her attorney, who said the state incest statute criminalizes sexual relationships between “parents and children.”

The relationship between Mares and Peterson represented a consensual relationship between two adults, defense attorney Brett Carter told the judge.

He also argued that incest laws punished women disproportionately.

Mares and Peterson told the British paper the Daily Mail that they made their relationship public to raise awareness about “genetic sexual attraction.”

Police learned of the relationship in February after responding to a dispute on the street where they lived. It’s not clear if it may have been a statement from a neighbor or an acquaintance that led police to determine the two were romantically involved.

A criminal complaint states that Peterson acknowledged the relationship at the time of the arrest, saying his mother had been in a series of abusive relationships with men.

He told authorities he believed he could take care of her and keep her safe from abusive men like those in her past, a criminal complaint states.

Mares denied having an incestuous relationship at the time of her arrest.

The trial of Peterson, who is also charged with incest, is scheduled for November.

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Information from: Clovis News Journal, http://www.cnjonline.com

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