ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Police have released video showing officers as they responded last year to concerns that an Albuquerque couple, now jailed on charges stemming from a human trafficking probe, was neglecting and abusing their 7-year-old daughter, and regularly failing to send her to school.
The police lapel video released Thursday night shows officers in November at a hotel off Interstate 25 where they questioned the girl and her parents. The officers found no drugs or alcohol in the room, and determined the child felt safe with her parents after an interview with her in a hallway of the hotel, where the family had been living at the time.
Court documents indicate she remained with her parents until their arrests late last month on separate charges.
The father is accused of prostituting his daughter, and forcing her to sexually touch men and women in exchange for drugs, paraphernalia and other items. He was indicted this week on counts of human trafficking of a child, criminal sexual contact of a minor, child abuse and promoting prostitution.
The mother is charged with child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor amid accusations she slapped her daughter’s face, and exposed her to strip clubs and panhandling. She also is accused of sending the girl to school with dirty clothes smelling of urine, and on an occasion, wearing promiscuous clothing and makeup.
The Associated Press is not naming the parents to avoid identifying the girl, who has been identified as a crime victim.
Court documents filed after the parents were arrested in recent weeks have indicated the family had been homeless, and the mother had worked in a strip club.
She has no prior criminal history, though court records say she and the girl’s father had numerous encounters with authorities making welfare checks and responding to concerns about their children. Those checks include the November 2017 visit from officers at the hotel where the family was staying.
Her attorney has indicated she has struggled with a disability and alcohol addiction. She had been in a detox facility at the time of her arrest, he said.
Attorneys for both parents have accused Attorney General Hector Balderas of using the case, launched this spring, to seek publicity. They also have questioned the reliability of prosecutors’ evidence.
A judge this week ordered the couple to remain jailed as they await trial.
The video released by police also includes footage of an elementary school teacher telling officers in November that the girl was arriving to her classroom with soiled clothes that smelled of urine. The teacher also recently had found a pair of bloody underwear, which was discovered after the girl changed into clean clothes provided by the school.
This week, the teacher testified in a detention hearing for the parents that an officer had tossed the underwear in the trash after their interview. That is not shown in the video released by Albuquerque police.
The officer’s actions did not violate police policies or procedures, city officials said.
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