RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Three families are suing Rio Rancho Public Schools and a long-time school security guard. They claim that the security guard used his position to sexually abuse and harass students. “It is kind of a parent’s worst nightmare,” Jason Bowles, an attorney representing the victims, said.
Three male students at Cleveland High School said they were sexually abused, repeatedly for years by a school security guard. “You feel like your kids are going to be safe in a school setting, minimally from the people that are supposed to be ensuring they are safe,” Bowles said.
Bowles and Todd Bullion, attorneys representing the alleged victims, said security guard George Archuleta would touch students inappropriately under the guise that he was searching them for drugs. These allegations began in August 2019. The students, who were freshman and sophomores at the time, said Archuleta took them in secluded rooms and grabbed their genitals during these alleged unlawful searches.
The attorneys said to the best of their knowledge, drugs were never found on the students, and Archuleta did not have any reason to justify searching them. “It was an opportunity for the security guard, the perpetrator, to touch them sexually,” Bowles said.
One of the three lawsuits asserts Archuleta wasn’t the only bad actor at Cleveland High. In that lawsuit, a second security guard is listed as defendant ‘John Doe #1.’ “We are working to confirm his identity before a suit is filed against him,” Bullion said.
John Doe allegedly watched a student using the urinal. The student said he then began using a stall. The suit said the student caught John Doe peering over the wall. The lawsuit said the student was being searched on a near-daily basis by Archuleta and other security guards. “It is horrifying,” Bowles said. “It is a ring. If that is true, these kids are being subjected to sexual assault by multiple people.”
Archuleta also allegedly followed students through the halls and stared at them inappropriately in plain view of other students and employees. The attorneys believe the school was aware something was going on and failed to act. Rio Rancho Public Schools said Archuleta worked at the school from 2009 to March 2020. “We know of three,” Bowles said. “There may have been more children harmed in this school, so it is very disturbing and serious.”
RRPS did not say why Archuleta left the school last year and said they do not comment on pending litigation. KRQE News 13 reached out to Archuleta’s attorney for comment, but we did not hear back. Archuleta has never been criminally charged.