Update: APD says News 13 story was ‘incomplete’

Rubem Nieto

Six days after News 13 initially asked the Albuquerque Police Department for comment on its involvement in a child pornography and rape investigation, a department spokeswoman responded Thursday with an emailed statement that said news 13’s May 16 story was “incomplete.”

That’s because, according to the emailed statement from APD spokeswoman Janet Blair, the story “failed to correctly detail Albuquerque Police Department’s efforts to investigate the Ruben Nieto child pornography case.”

In the statement, Blair wrote that APD made a “good faith effort to investigate these serious allegations.”

Her statement did not address APD’s role in investigating an allegation that Nieto raped his teenaged daughter two months after an agent from the state Attorney General’s Office turned suspected child porn evidence over to APD.

Nor did the statement refute the central premise of News 13’s May 16 story.

Reached by telephone Thursday afternoon, Blair reiterated that News 13’s story was “incomplete,” then refused to answer follow-up questions.

Here’s the complete statement:

The story you aired on Friday May 16 was incomplete because it failed to correctly detail Albuquerque Police Department’s efforts to investigate the Ruben Nieto child pornography case.  In February 2013, our agents offered to assist the Attorney General with the investigation of child pornography.  The AG’s office subsequently sent us some older downloads of child pornography allegedly in the possession of Ruben Nieto.  We suspended our investigation into this case while a higher priority child rape case involving this same offender was prepared.  When that case was submitted to the Bernalillo County District Attorney, our detectives again turned their attention back to the pornography case against Mr. Nieto.  Detectives requested additional downloads from the AG’s office, but got no response.  The latest downloads and evidence had gone to Bernalillo County Sheriff’s detectives instead.  The BCSO prepared the case and submitted it to the DA and Mr. Nieto was charged.

Originally, we were asked for our response to this story late on a Friday afternoon.  We did not feel we had adequate time to contact all detectives involved in these cases and provide accurate information regarding APD’s role.

We understand our responsibility to be accountable to the public and we hope this summary clarifies the facts of this case and APD’s good faith effort to investigate these serious allegations.

Reached by telephone Thursday afternoon, a spokesman for Attorney General Gary King said he would look into Blair’s claim about the work of AG’s investigators and respond to News 13 on Friday.


Previous Coverage
(May 20, 2014)

The Albuquerque Police Department is refusing to comment on why its detectives failed to follow up on a child porn case early last year. The suspect in that case allegedly raped his teenaged daughter two months after an agent from the state Attorney General’s Office handed over the suspected child porn evidence to APD.

On Friday, KRQE News 13 reported on the case of 45-year-old Ruben A. Nieto.

The story included no response from APD. That’s because the department’s newly hired spokeswoman, Janet Blair, did not respond Friday to multiple voicemails left in the early part of the afternoon seeking comment, or an email at 3:37 p.m. that laid out the facts News 13 planned to report.

News 13 followed up with Blair on Monday. She chastised a journalist for not giving APD enough time to respond to the story, then refused to comment.

Again on Tuesday, News 13 contacted Blair and requested a response to the central premise of the story: that APD’s failure to investigate the child porn case may have contributed to the circumstances that led to the alleged rape of Nieto’s daughter.

Blair again said that APD had no response — and that none would be forthcoming.

She added that top officials do not like News 13’s coverage of the Police Department, which has been beset with a host of problems in recent years that were detailed last month in a damning 46-page report by the U.S. Justice Department saying APD has deeply-rooted cultural, leadership and accountability problems that have led to the unconstitutional use of force and deadly force against citizens.

Blair took the APD job earlier this month at an annual salary of $95,000. She previously worked as a spokeswoman for Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court. Before that, Blair worked as a television reporter, including a stint at News 13.

In a news release announcing her hire, Police Chief Gorden Eden said Blair would “craft communications strategies that ensure transparency and the steady flow of information about our efforts” to the news media and to the public.

In the release, Blair added: “I am also hoping to improve APD’s relationships with the news media.”

Nieto, the child porn and rape suspect, was in jail Tuesday evening on a $20,000 bond. He faces two counts of sexual exploitation of children.

After APD failed to follow up on the case sent over by the AG’s Office — and after the subsequent rape allegation, for which Nieto was never arrested — investigators discovered new suspected child porn evidence against him. Late last month, the AG’s agent sent that case to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.

BCSO detectives arrested Nieto on May 8, court records show.

 

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