Former State Probation Officer Sentenced to Prison for Sexually Assaulting Woman Under his Supervision
ALBUQUERQUE – Gordon Chavez, 36, a former probation officer with the New Mexico Corrections Department’s Division of Probation and Parole, was sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on charges related to the sexual assault of a probationer whom he supervised. Chavez previously pled guilty to one count of violating the victim’s right to bodily integrity when he touched her breasts against her will. Chavez also pled guilty to one count of making material false statements to the FBI when he denied both touching the breasts of females whom he supervised and asking for naked photos of them.
“Every person who interacts with the criminal justice system should feel safe in law enforcement custody,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute all law enforcement officers who abuse their authority by committing sexual assaults. We commend the victim for coming forward to report the defendant's criminal conduct.”
“Any time a law enforcement officer breaks the law it undermines the public’s trust in the legal system, and we will do everything we can to ensure that trust is not compromised,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough. “I commend the victim in this case for having the courage to step forward and assert her right to be free of sexual abuse, and for trusting the Department of Justice to protect her.”
“An assault on one person's civil rights is an assault on everyone's civil rights,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee. “When a law enforcement officer is the perpetrator, the crime is even worse. The FBI hopes this sentencing sends a message to all public servants: We will vigorously investigate those who use their authority to violate another person's rights, and you could face a stiff prison term.”
According to court documents, Chavez engaged in escalating sexually inappropriate behavior toward the victim, a woman under his supervision since May 2012. As part of her probation and parole, the victim was required to attend mandatory meetings at Chavez’s office. During one of those meetings on Nov. 26, 2012, Chavez fondled the victim’s breast through and underneath her shirt without the victim’s consent. Chavez was later captured on a recording apologizing for his actions.
During that same Nov. 26, 2012, meeting with victim, Chavez also instructed the victim to bring revealing photos of herself on her cellular phone to the next office visit scheduled for Nov. 30, 2012. When the victim brought clothed photos of herself, Chavez specifically asked her to bring naked photos. That conversation was also captured on a recording.
On Dec. 4, 2012, FBI agents conducted a recorded interview of Chavez during which he denied touching the breasts of any female under his supervision. He also denied asking any female under his supervision for naked photographs.
During his plea hearing on Sept. 3, 3013, Chavez acknowledged that his actions toward the victim were wrong and against the law. Chavez further admitted that he lied to the FBI when he was interviewed about his conduct toward females whom he supervised.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark T. Baker for the District of New Mexico and Trial Attorney Fara Gold of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.