- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A southern New Mexico juvenile detention center is closing in the wake of a male detainee’s claim that a female staff therapist sexually assaulted him.

State Children Youth and Families Department officials are taking steps to close the Lincoln Pines Youth Center near Ruidoso and find other jobs for its employees, The Albuquerque Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1H8Az89 ).

CYFD spokesman Henry Varela said a review after the allegations found it didn’t make financial sense to keep the center open.

“With the number of youths adjudicated to our system going down, there weren’t enough clients that would put that facility at or near capacity,” Varela said.

The facility was designed to house up to 24 medium-risk boys ages 14 through 17, but earlier this year only 12 were incarcerated there.

All of the youths detained at Lincoln Pines were moved to other facilities in Las Cruces and Albuquerque after the allegations were made.

Some of Lincoln Pines’ staff members were asked to work at other facilities. Varela said CYFD is paying for them to temporarily live in motel rooms. He said layoffs of employees, including youth care specialists, are expected.

Lincoln Pines’ Superintendent Moises Espinoza no longer an employee of the company. Varela said he could not say way due to state personnel rules. Espinoza was placed on leave after the victim alerted detention center staff in February about the therapist’s alleged conduct.

The boy reported that Julie Ann Barham, 36, allegedly gave him prescription medication and would snort the drug with him prior to engaging in sex.

Barham was hired by CYFD last fall. She resigned the day after the minor reported the alleged incident.

She is awaiting trial on seven counts of sexual penetration in the second degree, distribution of a controlled substance to a minor, taking contraband into a juvenile correctional facility and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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