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New Mexico hazing update: KOAT–Parents reject deal
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A plea agreement was put on hold Tuesday in the case against six former Las Vegas High School football players accused of sodomizing fellow players in 2008.

Steven Garcia stood before a judge in Santa Fe to enter his plea as one of the victim’s parents protested.

The judge said he needs more time to evaluate reports and letters from parents before making a decision. He is the latest former athlete to enter a plea in the case.

Garcia pleaded to rape and other charges in a way that allows him to maintain his innocence, but admits he’d be found guilty in court.

Garcia is one of six boys accused of using a broomstick to sexually assault fellow Las Vegas Robertson teammates during an August 2008 football camp.

Under the plea, Garcia would be treated as a juvenile and spend one year or less in detention. Parents of one victim said, “No deal.”

“Mr. Garcia must answer these charges once and for all. We hope Mr. Garcia has a promising future but we do believe he must first accept and admit he did something very terrible to our son,” said victim’s parent Mike Melton.

“Regardless of how Mr. Garcia deals with his own personal responsibility, a guilty plea is a guilty plea and he would have been deemed to have been convicted under the laws of the state of New Mexico,” said special prosecutor Henry Valdez.

Valdez said that means even with the plea Garcia would be considered convicted under state law.

Valdez said many of the victims want to put the incident behind them and trying Garcia as an adult could be difficult because he’s a first-time offender.

The judge isn’t expected to announce a decision on the plea and sentence until May.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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