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Updated: Associate AD suspect in sexual assault

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Administrator placed on administrative leave

By Martin Salazar

Authorities are investigating a New Mexico Highlands University administrator for sexual assault after a university employee reported that the administrator made unwanted sexual advances toward him and grabbed his genitals earlier this month.

A Las Vegas Police Department report lists the suspect as Gavino Archuleta, the university’s associate athletic director and sports information director. The alleged victim is a male Athletics Department employee. The police report states that another Athletics Department employee intervened, giving the alleged victim an opportunity to escape the situation.

The incident is said to have occurred the night of Nov. 16 following a small gathering at Archuleta’s home on the 300 block of Sandoval Street, on the north side of Las Vegas.  

The police report lists the crimes being investigated as criminal sexual contact and false imprisonment. Archuleta has not been charged.

District Attorney Richard Flores said earlier this week that his office had not yet received investigative reports.

Archuleta has been placed on administrative leave, Highlands Spokesman Sean Weaver confirmed Thursday afternoon.

“The university was made aware of (the situation) and has taken appropriate action pursuant to our policies,” he said.

Archuleta didn’t respond to messages left on his cellphone Wednesday and Thursday.

‘Distraught’ victim
The alleged victim reported the incident to police at about 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 17.

During an interview at the police department, he told an officer that he and two other Athletics Department employees were at Archuleta’s house drinking a few beers and watching Sports Center. He said that as he and another employee were about to drive away, Archuleta flagged them down. The alleged victim told the officer that he got out of the vehicle to see what Archuleta wanted, and Archuleta asked him to step back into his house.

He told the officer that Archuleta then offered him a shot, and he drank it. The alleged victim said he then tried to make his way back to the front door to leave, but Archuleta was blocking the door, preventing him from leaving.

He told the officer that Archuleta then began touching him and that he grabbed his crotch. The alleged victim said he managed to retreat to the bathroom and send a text message to the Athletics Department employee who was waiting for him outside of Archuleta’s house. In the text, he asked the other employee to come back into the house because Archuleta was touching him and wouldn’t let him leave.

When the other employee began knocking at the front door, the alleged victim tried to get out through another door. He told the officer that Archuleta cornered him, reached down his pants and grabbed his genitals.

He said the other employee was outside the front door yelling, “Let me in; let me in.”

He told the officer he was then able to unlock the front door, at which point the other employee walked inside the home. The alleged victim said he got out of the house and broke out into tears. He and the other employee went to his apartment.

The alleged victim said Archuleta then began calling him on his cellphone. He initially didn’t answer but later set up a recorder and recorded two conversations with Archuleta. The recordings were turned over to the officer.

“In the first conversation you could hear Mr. Archuleta trying to persuade (the alleged victim) to go back to his residence,” the police report states. It states that Archuleta kept insisting that the alleged victim go back to his house. The second recording captured Archuleta admitting to wanting to touch the alleged victim, the report states.

It also states that Archuleta ended that call by asking the alleged victim to keep the conversation between them.

The other Athletics Department employee told police that as soon as she received the text message she went to the front door and opened it. She said that as soon as she opened the door, Archuleta turned around and shut it on her. She said she kept pushing on the door trying to open it, but she could feel someone trying to hold the door shut.

She said the alleged victim was able to get out when she opened the door.

The officer notes in his report that the alleged victim broke out into tears several times and that he appeared to be distraught with the situation. He told the officer that he was confused, especially since Archuleta was his boss and someone whom he looked up to.

Rising star
According to the Highlands staff directory, Archuleta has worked at the university for about six years. He served as an assistant football coach from 2006 to 2007. He took over as the university’s sports information director in 2007 and was promoted to associate athletic director in 2008.

The Española Valley native attended Highlands on a football scholarship. He earned his bachelor’s in elementary education from Highlands in 2005 and his master’s in sports administration in 2009.

As associate athletic director, Archuleta is in charge of all fundraising for the Athletics Department and for the department’s corporate partnership program. Among his duties as sports information director is serving as the media relations liaison.