A 14-year-old boy could be charged with a felony for slapping a girl’s buttocks at their high school, officials said.
The incident occurred last week at the Espanola Middle School in northern New Mexico and was reported to local police by Assistant Principal Ruben Lucero.
“We have a strict sexual harassment policy,” Lucero said Wednesday. “Anytime a person’s body is violated, we consider that major.”
The boy, who lives with his grandmother, admitted slapping the girl’s buttocks and must now report to a juvenile probation officer for a preliminary inquiry.
Sex Crime or Battery?
Police, assisted by forensic psychologists, are investigating whether the incident should be categorized as criminal sexual contact or battery, Espanola Police Chief Wayne Salazar said.
“The suspect is alleging that this was just a battery, that this was not a sexual issue,” he said. “But why the buttocks? Why not the arm, why not someplace else? It’s the target area that concerns us.”
If convicted of criminal sexual contact, a felony, the boy could face up to two years at a juvenile detention facility.
“The way I see it, they were just messing around,” his grandmother said.
Victim’s Mom: No Charges
Lucero said that for minor infractions, such as name calling, he suspends students from classes, but for a major infraction, including physical contact, the student must meet with a juvenile parole board to determine the severity of the incident.
“What he did wasn’t right, but I wouldn’t have pressed charges, given that it was just a slap on the butt,” said the 13-year-old victim’s mother.
Salazar said the forensic psychologists would complete their assessment within the next two weeks, after which police would know how to proceed.
Students at the school are on Christmas break until Jan. 3.