ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The attorney representing a man accused of attacking and raping girls near an Albuquerque middle school unleashed a bombshell during what was to be a plea-deal hearing in District Court Wednesday.
One of alleged victims is recanting her story and accusing prosecutors of harassing her into implicating Joseph Blea.
Blea is the accused McKinley Middle School rapist, a man who in the late 1980s and early 90's attacked middle school students walking home. He also is alleged to have attacked women in the neighborhood.
In all the cases the victim's say the man wore a mask and gray sweatshirt and was armed with a kitchen knife.
Charges against Blea came in 2010 from a DNA match after he was forced to submit a sample following a domestic violence arrest. Shortly after that he was charged with the rape of his own stepdaughter.
Blea appeared in District Court in his stepdaughter's case Wednesday where his attorney announced the victim didn't want to proceed with charges.
"She said they (the charges) have nothing to do with the defendant," Blea's attorney John McCall told the judge. "In her statement she said she had been harassed by the DA's office to get her to say the things that she previously said."
District Attorney Kari Brandenburg answered back later in the day.
"We would strongly disagree with that characterization," she said. "We don't get anyone to say anything that isn't the truth."
Brandenburg said the announcement in court doesn't surprise her because Blea's family has not been cooperative in this case.
This setback does not mean Blea will get off the hook. Three more alleged victims have come forward in the last year and a half resulting in a total of nine counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping against him.
Prosecutors said in all of those cases and the initial case that started this they have the powerful weapon of DNA evidence.
Police also believe there are many more victims out there. They continue to ask those women to come forward.
"We have our sights focused on Mr. Blea for these other offenses, and we feel certain that he will be held accountable for his actions," Brandenburg said.
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