BERNALILLO, N.M. (KRQE) - The Sandoval County Sheriff's Department confirmed Friday that two of its deputies are being investigated for possible crimes against children.
In both cases the alleged victims are under the age of 12. The department confirmed one of the deputies, Cpl. Ventura Salas, is already on suspension.
Sgt. Jessica Mascarenas said Salas was placed on paid leave in December after the department found out Rio Rancho police were investigating him. KRQE News 13 requested Salas' case documents and was given a report outlining accusations of criminal sexual contact of a minor.
The report stated a 9-year-old girl claims Salas molested her at his house during a sleepover with the deputy's daughter. Rio Rancho Police Sgt. Nick Onken said according to the report the girl said the man thought she was asleep when the alleged crime happened.
"He reached over and touched her hand and then using her hand touched himself inappropriately," Onken said.
Salas denies it happened, according to the report .
As the sheriff's department was waiting to see if Ventura Salas would be charged, it got word a second deputy, Robert Salas, was the center of another investigation this time out of the Santa Fe Police Department.
The department said the two deputies are not related.
Santa Fe Capt. Aric Wheeler said the allegations against Robert Salas are abuse of a child. He said the named victim is Salas' 11-year-old son and that the deputy hit him with his "law enforcement" belt.
He said the boy's mother called police.
Wheeler said pictures of the alleged abuse were taken.
"There was indication of bruising to the thigh and buttocks area," Wheeler said.
The Sandoval County Sheriff's Department said the situation, where two deputies are being investigated at the same time for two separate crimes against children, has never happened before.
"We're taking both incidents seriously," Mascarenas said.
For now, Robert Salas still suits up and shows up for shifts. The department said that could change depending on the information they receive about the abuse allegations.
"We're still waiting to get information from them to determine what our next step will be," Mascarenas said.
Both cases are being forwarded to the District Attorney's Office. Prosecutors will decide whether there's enough evidence to file charges.
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