Rio Rancho Public Schools facing lawsuit over alleged sexual abuse in football program

Education

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – The Rio Rancho Public School district is facing a lawsuit for allegedly not protecting a then 13-year-old female student from her coach, who is accused of assaulting and threatening her. The lawsuit claims that in 2016, coach Danny Charley sexually abused the sole female teammate on Eagle Ridge Middle School’s football team.


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“The allegations are just a parent’s worst nightmare. I mean he began to groom her using his cell phone, got her personal cell phone number. Because of his access to public school records, knew where she lived, knew where her parents, where her grandparents lived, threatened to kill her if she told anyone,” said Shannon Kennedy, the attorney representing the victim and her family.

The lawsuit claims RRPS ran a football program that discriminated against the only female player and didn’t do proper screening before hiring coach Charley, who was the son of the head coach. According to court documents, Charley isolated the female player and used his cell phone to ask her to perform sexual acts. It also claims he assaulted her in an unsupervised girls’ locker room and on drives to away games. It claims Charley drove the female player in a van and sexually assaulted her while the rest of the team took a bus.

“She’s just incredibly courageous to come forward and speak out so that future female football players are not isolated separately and transported separately to sporting events from their football team. I mean there’s no reason that a female football player should be isolated on an equipment van instead of being with the rest of her team and not only that, understanding that lack of supervision lead her to be sexually objectified and sexually assaulted,” said Kennedy.

The family also filed a lawsuit against Charley himself back in June. Kennedy said that case is in a holding pattern with issues of his competency coming up.

Without commenting on any particular case, a spokesperson with RRPS said it does conduct background checks, fingerprinting, and licensure verifications on all new hires for our district. It said it did not comment on pending litigation.

Kennedy also said her client is working to get more funding for recently passed legislation, which pushes for stricter screening of school personnel and for stricter reporting of ethical misconduct of a school employee.

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