State Fair ride worker accused of molesting teen

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A New Mexico State Fair worker is accused of fondling a teen who says she was touched inappropriately on a popular fair ride. New Mexico State Police arrested Raymond Johnson while he was on the job Tuesday, just two days after the alleged incident.

State fair rides typically put people on edge for the thrills. But now one ride this year has people on edge for a different reason.

“It makes me want to watch not only my children but other people’s children as well,” said Jessica Montoya, a mother who was at the fair on Wednesday.

It’s not the heights or the speed that’s making parents nervous this time, but one man who was running the ride.

“You can’t really trust anybody to anything anymore, you know?” said Megan Cadena, another mom who was at the state fair on Wednesday.

State Police arrested Raymond Johnson on the Midway Tuesday. He’s accused of reaching down into a 14-year-old girl’s crotch and fondling her.

“We were approached by the victim’s aunt yesterday, and we were informed of an incident that occurred on the Midway at the ‘Drop Zone,’ a ride called the ‘Drop Zone,’ Sunday afternoon,” said Lt. Emmanuel Gutierrez, a spokesman for New Mexico State Police.

According to a criminal complaint, the victim says Johnson touched her twice on Sunday. Once when he buckled her in the “Drop Zone” ride and again when she got out.

Investigators say Johnson told them he “…does on occasion, out of impatience, reach in between occupants’ legs to retrieve the safety strap.”

However, State Police say there’s no reason why Johnson should do that. Police don’t believe he inappropriately touched other kids, but they are looking into it.

“If any other victims feel that they were a victim of Mr. Johnson, you know, come forward, come speak to us,” said Lt. Gutierrez.

EXPO New Mexico says Johnson won’t be allowed back at the fair. However, they’re not sure this could have been prevented.

They say the Oklahoma-based contractor, Murphy Brothers, operates the rides and requires background checks and drug testing.

“State Police has checked his record and there’s nothing indicating sexual offenses in his past background,” said Thompson.

While the fair has extra police officers on patrol during the fair, EXPO New Mexico says they can’t predict people’s future behavior. They’re asking everyone to be on the lookout.

“We would ask that patrons to be diligent, if they see something that they think isn’t right bring it to the attention of state fair staff,” said Thompson.

EXPO New Mexico says the contract with the ride company Murphy Brothers expires this year and will go out to bid. They say these kinds of incidents will go into consideration before they sign another contract.

You may notice Johnson’s pretty battered in his mug shot. State police say he didn’t look like that when he was arrested and both the APD Prisoner Transport Center and the Metropolitan Detention Center say they’re looking at surveillance video to see how it happened.

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