- Associated Press - Sunday, June 5, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - When a 17-year-old girl told her mother she was gay, authorities said she was beaten with a shoe and forced to undress to show she was a woman not a man.

The girl also allegedly was told to perform a sex act on herself in an assault that sheriff’s detective initially investigated as a hate crime and resulted in charges of felony child abuse and criminal sexual penetration for Las Cruces mother Magdo Haro.

The July 2014 case made headlines in the state, but police say it ultimately has not been prosecuted as a hate crime. It also was never counted in the FBI’s annual nationwide tally of hate crimes - a similar trend with numerous other cases nationwide.

An Associated Press investigation has found more than 2,700 city police and county sheriff’s offices nationwide have not submitted a single hate crime report between 2009 and 2014. In New Mexico, 53 of the 118 agencies in the state - or 45 percent overall - did not report such crimes to the FBI.

Only Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana and Indiana had higher rates for unsubmitted hate crime reports by law enforcement.

Filing reports for the federal count is voluntary. But advocates argue the lack of reporting at the national level and complete federal data undermine efforts to convey the extent of racism and bias in the U.S., and address the problem.

The FBI, which says hate groups “plant seeds of terrorism” in the U.S., has made investigating crimes motivated by a victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or ethnicity the priority of its civil rights division.

The agency also has taken steps to improve efforts to report the crimes, with FBI Director James Comey calling on local law enforcement to more aggressively track the cases and the federal agency initiating training sessions on bias attacks for hundreds of officers nationwide.

In New Mexico, small town police departments in some of the most rural areas of the state are among those that haven’t submitted the voluntary reports. But so are those in some of the state’s largest population centers, including Dona Ana County where online court records show charges are still pending against Haro.

The Dona Ana and Santa Fe county sheriff’s offices, as well as the Las Cruces and Santa Fe police departments, all did not submit reports to the FBI between 2009 and 2014.

While the FBI call for local law enforcement reports to be submitted even if they list zero hate crimes, a Santa Fe Police Department spokesman said his agency hasn’t been asked for hate crime reports, though it does regularly file violent-crime and property-crime numbers with the FBI for its Unified Crime Reporting program.

“We’ve never been asked to break it down as hate crimes out of that,” Greg Gurule, with the Santa Fe police. “If the feds came back and said we really need those, then we would do it.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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