TIERRA AMARILLA, N.M. (KRQE) – While State Police continues its criminal investigation, football players accused of getting video of girls changing in the locker room have been suspended and kicked off the team. No one from Escalante, a combined middle and high school in Tierra Amarilla, would talk to KRQE News 13 on Tuesday.
Instead, News 13 spoke with a father who said his 13-year-old daughter was in the girls’ locker room at school last Thursday, changing with the rest of the volleyball team before a game.
“She saw a hand reach down out of the ceiling tile with an iPhone on it. She saw this videoing,” said Joseph Serna. “She reported it to the girls that were in the [locker room].”
The Chama Valley Schools superintendent said some freshman football players admitted to recording video of the middle school girls. Students said the boys climbed over a wall from their locker room to get to the ceiling over the girls’ locker room.
The school has suspended four boys and kicked them off the junior varsity football team. However, police didn’t get involved until a parent called them this week.
“These are eighth grade and seventh grade girls,” Serna said. “Their civil rights were violated.”
The superintendent said the school didn’t discover a criminal investigation may be necessary until Monday, partly because there was no school on Friday, the day after the incident.
“We don’t have any students here on Friday, so it’s pretty difficult for us to obtain statements at that time,” said Superintendent Anthony Casados.
Parents also brought up concerns the school was trying to sweep it under the rug, after hearing from their kids that the principal’s son may have been involved.
“Once the matter was brought to my attention, I made the determination to excuse the high school principal from conducting the investigation,” Casados said.
The superintendent said the school fixed the locker room ceiling Monday to make sure no one can get through there anymore.
District Attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco wouldn’t comment on this case because it is still under investigation. She did confirm that it is a felony under the state’s new voyeurism law for a minor to secretly videotape another minor undressing, just like it is for an adult who secretly videotapes a minor. However, she said when the perpetrators are minors, the punishment isn’t necessarily the same as it would be for adults and the children would not be labeled as sex offenders.