SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A retired Santa Fe Police detective at the center of a lawsuit who was accused of losing a rape kit of a child, is telling his side of the story. The lawsuit claims a detective’s, and the City of Santa Fe’s, negligence led to prosecutors letting the suspect off with far lesser charges.

Retired Santa Fe Police Detective Paul Ytuarte was part of the Santa Fe Police Department for 17 years – 10 of those as a detective. Ytuarte said he collected the evidence of the 4-year-old victim and took the rape kit to a sexual nurse examiner also known as a SANE nurse.

“They do their thing, I log in that evidence, and then when they’re done, I go pick up that evidence from the scanners and I’m supposed to log out, which I did,” said Ytuarte.

Back in 2018, 32-year-old Enrique Palomino-Loya was arrested and charged with first-degree criminal sexual penetration of a family member. Ytuarte said he was surprised when he got a call from the District Attorney’s Office asking him if he had any idea of where the rape kit was. He told them it was in the police evidence locker room.

“They told me we know it was in there because they saw an itemized list of several different pieces of evidence from different cases, including mine, that were scheduled to be transported to the state crime lab to be processed. So they knew it was in there at one point in time but it never made it to the state crime lab; that’s what the District Attorney’s Office told me,” said Ytuarte.

He said he was contacted by someone investigating the lost rape kit for the City of Santa Fe.

“Several months later, she did reach out to me and told me that at the end of their investigation, there was no evidence that showed that I lost the rape kit,” said Ytuarte.

News 13 reached out to the City of Santa Fe to see if Ytuarte was cleared. They would not talk, only sending a statement and not confirming that Ytuarte was cleared in the investigation. News 13 also reached out to the Law Enforcement Academy to see if the City of Santa Fe sent them any notices for disciplinary action concerning the rape kit. There was only an investigation concerning an incident in 2011.

Palomino-Loya was recently able to take a plea deal on lesser charges in the case, that deal involved no jail time.