Lawsuit Says Women Sexually Abused By NM Prison Guards, Former UNM Athletic Director Indicted

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Lawsuit: Women Sexually Abused By New Mexico Prison Guards - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Three former inmates of a New Mexico prison say they were repeatedly sexually assaulted by guards and their complaints were met with indifference or retaliation.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the women recently filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court over assaults that allegedly occurred in a Springer, New Mexico, prison from 2016 to 2018.

According to the lawsuit, the prison guards forced the women to show their body parts and kiss each other.

One woman says her abuser harassed her when she was in solitary confinement by turning the lights on every half hour to wake her up and made derogatory comments about her body.

New Mexico Corrections Department spokesman Ricardo Montoya says the department has not seen the lawsuit.

Former New Mexico AD Indicted On Embezzlement Charges - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

Former University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs has been indicted in connection with a lavish 2015 golf trip to Scotland that was partly paid for with state funds.

Documents filed Wednesday in state district court show a grand jury indicted the 63-year-old Krebs on embezzlement, larceny, and tampering charges.

The charges are part of an investigation into questionable spending by the school's troubled athletic department.

Attorney General Hector Balderas launched an investigation in 2017 after it was discovered that the university used nearly $25,000 in public money to pay some private donor expenses on the Scotland trip.

Krebs served as New Mexico athletic director from 2006 to 2017.

Krebs' attorney Paul Kennedy says he's confident his client will be vindicated by a jury.

New Mexico Agency Says Lung Disease Possible Linked With VapingAssociated Press

The New Mexico Department of Health is investigating possible cases of lung disease associated with vaping and recommends against using vaping cartridges containing an active ingredient of marijuana.

The department said in a statement Wednesday that a 29-year-old Albuquerque area man has been determined to have lung disease associated with vaping and that three additional cases are under investigation.

The department also says all of those people reported using vaping cartridges and that those cartridges might have contained THC, an active ingredient of marijuana.

According to the department, similar cases have been reported in at least 14 other states and federal and state agencies are investigating possible causes.

The department urged health providers to report cases of lung disease possibly associated with vaping.

New Mexico County Will Require Workers To Get Paid LeaveAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A New Mexico county will require businesses with at least two employees to offer their workers paid leave.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Bernalillo County Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday for the measure requiring businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county to give employees at least one hour of paid time off for every 32 hours worked.

The law calls for the amount of leave that workers can accrue to increase in phases.

During the law's first year, workers cannot accrue more than 24 hours of leave. It increases to 40 hours in the second year and 56 hours in the third year.

The law takes effect July 2020.

Business advocacy groups had argued the measure would be costly and disproportionately affect small businesses.

Fired New Mexico Ed Secretary To Lead Las Cruces SchoolsLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Karen Trujillo, the former New Mexico public education secretary who was fired just six months into her job, has been chosen to lead Las Cruces Public Schools.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the Las Cruces Public School board voted Tuesday to name Trujillo the district's interim superintendent after Superintendent Greg Ewing resigned last week.

Last month, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham abruptly fired Trujillo as leader of the state's Public Education Department, raising eyebrows from some state lawmakers and criticism for some in southern New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham said the firing came after some of her "expectations were not met."

Trujillo is a former Doña Ana County Commissioner. The Las Cruces resident was most recently interim associate dean for research in New Mexico State University's College of Education.

Vandals Continue To Hit LGBTQ, Immigrant New Mexico Church - KRQE-TV, Associated Press

Vandals continue to target a New Mexico church known for welcoming LGBTQ residents and immigrants.

KRQE-TV reports Metropolitan Community Church members said this week the Albuquerque church has been the target of vandalism seven times in less than three weeks.

The most recent vandalism happened Monday night. Members say that's when someone threw a rock through the window on the front door, knocking out the newly installed plexiglass.

Albuquerque police are investigating.

No arrests have been made.

Church board members said it will cost an estimated $5,000 to fix the damage.

The Christian church has been at the same location for 18 years and it has reported only a few minor episodes in its history.

Declining Faculty Hits New Mexico Highlands University - Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

New Mexico Highlands University officials are worried about the declining number of faculty and are reporting its lowest number of tenured positions in school history.

The Las Vegas Optic reports Vice President of Finance and Administration Max Baca told the school's Board of Regents this week that officials want to address the falling numbers at the northern New Mexico college.

Baca says the school would be pushing legislators for money to increase salaries to make Highlands University more competitive with other institutions.

Faculty association president Kathy Jenkins says there is a certain level of dissatisfaction with some of the faculty that led them to start looking for employment elsewhere.

Faculty Senate Chair Orit Tamir says she worried about the impact on the students with the declining numbers of faculty.

Court Rules Electoral College Members Not Bound By Popular VoteAssociated Press

A federal appeals court in Denver says Electoral College members can vote for the presidential candidate of their choice and aren't bound by the popular vote in their states.

The court said Tuesday the Colorado secretary of state violated the Constitution in 2016 when he removed an elector who refused to cast his ballot for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote.

The ruling applies only to Colorado and five other states in the 10th Circuit: New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

Colorado's current secretary of state, Jena Griswold, said the ruling takes power away from voters and sets a dangerous precedent. She didn't say if she would appeal.

The elector's attorneys say the U.S. Supreme Court will likely hear the case because it conflicts with a decision from Washington state's Supreme Court. That court said electors could be fined for not casting ballots for the popular vote winner.

Pence Steps Up Pressure For Trade Deal With Mexico, Canada - Associated Press

Vice President Mike Pence stepped up pressure on Congress to support the Trump administration's new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, taking his pitch Wednesday to a congressional swing district in New Mexico.

Speaking to a crowd at an oilfield services company in the Permian basin that straddles New Mexico and Texas, Pence linked the future prosperity of the U.S. energy sector to approval this year of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

He suggested the trade deal would result in more infrastructure to move energy from the U.S. to Mexico, without specifying whether that might mean pipelines or transmission wires.

Pence's trip to the West includes events to promote the trade pact in two congressional districts that Democrats took from the GOP last year. One was the sprawling southern New Mexico congressional district that borders Mexico and covers thriving oil fields and military bases.