Former Employee Files Lawsuit Against Rio Arriba County School Official for Assaulting a 12-Year-Old Girl

Deana Gallegos, a former employee of a small school in Espanola, New Mexico, is accusing an education official of Rio Arriba County for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl. The alleged incident happened last August, and she claims that she was fired because they wanted to retaliate against her for making the complaint. Vernon Jaramillo has been working with the County for a long time, and he’s one of the school’s top administrators. Jaramillo serves as the chancellor for the Carinos Charter School, and he was the superintendent of the Mesa Vista School District. He has also denied the allegations that have been made against him.

The lawsuit was filed last week, making him and Principal Bernice Life the defendants. The eighth-grade girl told Gallegos that he made sexual advances toward her last August. Her teacher reported it to the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department as well as the local police department. Aside from making sexual comments, she claims that Jaramillo hugged and kissed her (along with grabbing her buttocks) and that she was meeting with him in his office alone.

A complaint was also filed with the New Mexico Human Rights Bureau, and the spokeswoman for the Education Department confirmed that an email was sent to the agency regarding the complaint. A detective for the Espanola Police Department “decided not to pursue the case or send it to the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office.” He stated that the alleged victim didn’t give a consistent account of what happened, but the allegations came in the middle of some management changes that resulted in some confusion at the police department. Jaramillo claims that he has not been placed on leave. But according to the suit, he hasn’t been working at the school for a couple of weeks.

The detective who decided not to pursue the investigation was fired in March by the mayor who had just been elected, and it was because of a series of lawsuits that had been filed under his watch – one of which was the case in question. It claims that Romero tried to stop the investigation, and there was a video that showed evidence of misconduct by other officers. The principal and the other administrators at the school became hostile toward Gallegos after she made the complaint, and they started giving her more job responsibilities. She received a termination letter from the school last September. She’s looking for lost wages, attorney’s fees, court costs, and punitive damages.