Teens learn sentencing for hazing

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Two teenagers involved in the 2010 Valencia High School sexual hazing case were sentenced to community service and supervised probation Thursday in front of District Court Judge George Eichwald.

Eichwald sentenced Jake Sanchez and Jeremiah Carroll, both 19, to supervised probation and gave them the option to choose between two punishments for their role in the crime.

Both men can either serve 200 hours of community service at an undisclosed landfill or work with the New Mexico Activities Association to develop a bullying/hazing policy.

They both have 30 days to decide which option they want to choose.

The men, who were sentenced as juveniles, were initially sentenced to two years in the custody of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, but Eichwald suspended the sentence.

According to Anne Keener, an assistant district attorney, the men will be on supervised probation until age 21 unless they perform well with their required community service. She said they can be discharged from their probation after a year.

In September, Carroll and Sanchez pleaded no contest to aggravated battery, a lesser charge than what the men were indicted on. The aggravated battery allegation was a new charge that was not included in the original grand jury indictment.

The men, along with Curtis Peralta, were indicted on charges of criminal sexual penetration and conspiracy after the three were accused of holding down a varsity football teammate and rubbing his bare buttocks in October 2010.

In August 2011, Peralta pleaded guilty to two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in a plea and disposition agreement with the district attorney. He is to be sentenced as an adult later this month. Each charge carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison.

The former Valencia High students and football players were accused of sexually assaulting another member of the school's football team while he was getting dressed after practice.

The 13th Judicial District Attorney's Office offered Sanchez and Carroll plea deals in exchange for dismissing the remaining charges against them.

Keener said the district attorney's office didn't recommend to the court that the men be remanded over to CYFD. Instead, she said she wanted the sentence to include a significant amount of community service.

"We didn't ask for commitment (to CYFD)," Keener said. "The court could have done anything."

Keener said the district attorney's office is satisfied with the lesser sentence.

According to the KRQE-TV website, Eichwald said the men acted as bullies in the incident.

"I don't know (the victim's) size, but you guys took advantage of him — that's the bottom line," said Eichwald. "It's not a case of boys being boys. It's a case of boys being bullies."

Keener said the district attorney's office recommended community service as a way to make sure the men knew their acts were wrong.

"The state's duty is to do justice," Keener said. "Our concern is that hazing needs to end."


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.