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NEW DEVELOPMENT: Mora High School student appears in court

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By The Staff

Authorities have charged a boy in connection with sexual assaults at Mora High School. He appeared in court Wednesday afternoon.

Around 2 p.m. Monday, the Mora County Sheriff's Department responded to the alleged attacks at the school. Three girls reported that a boy assaulted them, officials said.

Authorities said they believe the four were wrestling in the Mora High School gym when one of them got carried away and began to inappropriately touch the others.

The victims were questioned by law enforcement, which resulted in the boy being arrested. He was then taken to the Santa Fe jail for booking.

The district attorney is now further investigating this case, sheriff's officials said. However, three counts of criminal sexual conduct have been filed by the Mora County Sheriff's Department. Undersheriff Tim Marquez is the lead investigator in this case.

When the Optic first called Superintendent Dora Romero Wednesday morning, she said she didn't know about the sexual assaults. She said she would have to call the high school principal.

A little while later, she called back to say that she called the principal and that he told her about the incident. She said the principal is following the proper procedures.

When asked why the principal didn't inform her right away, she said he did and that she know about the sexual assaults all along.

"You caught me off guard," she told an Optic reporter. "I am new to this. I had better be quiet."

She said she apologized that if she said that she didn't know about the alleged sexual assaults.

District Attorney Richard Flores said in a statement this morning that he was informed about the alleged assaults Tuesday. He said he is meeting with the families of alleged victims Wednesday morning.

He said he will not handle the case because he has an alleged conflict. The suspect's mother worked for Flores at a previous job, the district attorney said.

Early Wednesday afternoon, the boy appeared in state District Court, where his attorney, Marc Grano, denied the charges.

The state and defense agreed to release the boy into the custody of his family. The boy will be home-schooled.

"Mora High School is a small community, where they (the boy and the victims) would have contact and there would be problems in the future," prosecutor Tom Clayton said.

Grano asked the court if his client could continue to attend confirmation classes at a local church. Clayton had no objection because while the girls are church members, they aren't attending the classes.

District Judge Eugenio Mathis agreed to the request and allowed the boy to be released. Shortly after, officers removed the boy's handcuffs.

Mathis warned the boy that he would return to detention if he violated the conditions of his release.