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Accused Highlands official resigns

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By Martin Salazar

The New Mexico Highlands University administrator accused of grabbing a male subordinate’s genitals in November has resigned his position, according to his attorney.

Gavino Archuleta, 30, resigned from Highlands last month. AJ Salazar, Archuleta’s criminal defense attorney, notified San Miguel County Magistrate Court on Jan. 21 that his client “has voluntarily resigned his position at New Mexico Highlands University.”

Archuleta had served as the university’s associate athletic director and sports information director. He had worked at Highlands in various capacities for about six years.

Archuleta was placed on paid administrative leave immediately after university officials learned of the accusations against him.

He is facing charges of criminal sexual contact and false imprisonment, both fourth-degree felonies, and three petty misdemeanor counts of battery stemming from the Nov. 17 incident.

Highlands spokesman Sean Weaver confirmed that Archuleta has not been an employee of the university since Jan. 18.

Jose Lopez, a former assistant of Archuleta’s, has taken over the sports information director duties on an interim basis, Weaver said.

An arrest warrant was issued for Archuleta in December, and he surrendered himself to authorities on Jan. 7. He is out of jail, and a preliminary hearing in his case has been scheduled for Feb. 19.

Court and police documents say the incident occurred following a small gathering at Archuleta’s home on the 300 block of Sandoval Street.

The criminal sexual contact charge is the result of the allegation that Archuleta put his hand down the male employee’s pants and grabbed his genitals. The false imprisonment count stems from the allegation that Archuleta prevented that same employee from leaving. Two of the battery counts are related to allegations that Archuleta grabbed the clothed buttocks of that same employee and of another female employee. The third battery count stems from the allegation that Archuleta grabbed the male employee’s clothed genitals.

Archuleta had apparently been drinking at the time.