- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) - A small southeastern New Mexico town’s former police chief has been convicted of stalking and battery charges in a case that a prosecutor said involved abuse of authority to pursue women.

A Magistrate Court jury late Thursday convicted former Dexter Police Chief Mario R. Contreras of petty misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor stalking. The jury acquitted him of another stalking count, and two other battery counts were dismissed previously.

Magistrate Judge E.J. Fouratt then sentenced Contreras to 20 days in jail, a 1½-year probation term and ordered Contreras to perform 40 hours of community service and make a $500 donation to a shelter for domestic violence and sexual assault victims.

Defense attorney S. Doug Jones Witt said Contreras will appeal. He remains free on bond.

Contreras, 45, was put on leave when New Mexico State Police began an investigation after women complained that he stalked them, made crude gestures and touched them inappropriately. The town later fired Contreras.

The Roswell Daily Record (https://goo.gl/a1GO9R ) reported that jurors heard testimony that Contreras tickled one woman’s foot during a Town Council meeting, caressed the hand of a convenience store worker’s hand and made sexual advances toward another worker.

District Attorney Andrea Reeb said she’ll ask state officials to revoke Contreras’ certification as a law enforcement officer.

The prosecutor said Contreras used his position as a police officer to intimidate and harass women and that conduct should not be tolerated.

“He’s a police officer running around Dexter abusing his power with his badge,” Reeb told jurors.

Contreras testified that he didn’t recall doing anything wrong, and Jones Witt said his client may have flirted with women but that the allegations didn’t amount to criminal conduct.

“Let’s just assume that he’s a flirt,” Jones Witt said in closing arguments. “Touching someone’s leg is not equal to battery. What episode of the ‘Twilight Zone’ have I officially tuned in to?”


Information from: Roswell Daily Record, https://www.roswell-record.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide