CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

3 former New Mexico State basketball players charged with sex crimes in case of alleged hazing

Nov 11, 2023, 6:00 AM

Three former New Mexico State University basketball players have been charged with sex crimes in a ...

Three former New Mexico State University basketball players have been charged with sex crimes in a case of alleged hazing. Pictured is the basketball court of the Pan American Center at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. (Andrés Leighton/AP)

(Andrés Leighton/AP)

Originally Published: 10 NOV 23 06:11 ET
Updated: 10 NOV 23 20:45 ET

(CNN) — Three former New Mexico State University basketball players have been charged with felony sex crimes and other offenses over allegations they were hazing teammates and student staff members – accusations that helped prematurely end the team’s 2022-23 season – the state attorney general said Thursday.

Deshawndre Washington, Doctor Bradley and Kim Aiken Jr. are accused of “holding younger players and student staff against their will while they violated them,” including by “violently grabbing (victims’) genital areas,” the office of New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez said in a news release.

The offenses are alleged to have happened from August to November 2022, grand jury indictments released by the attorney general’s office say.

“Players, coaches and administrators at every level are on notice that this type of violent conduct will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Torrez said. “They should also be aware that while this action is an important first step in addressing this inexcusable behavior, our work in correcting the culture that allowed these crimes to occur is far from finished.”

Each defendant is charged with a count of criminal sexual penetration; several counts of false imprisonment; several counts of criminal sexual contact; one count of conspiracy to commit criminal sexual contact; and one count of conspiracy to commit false imprisonment, court documents show. Each charge is a felony.

Washington, a junior guard last season, and Bradley, then a sophomore forward, each face five counts of false imprisonment and criminal sexual contact. Aiken, a redshirt senior forward last season, faces four counts of both charges.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the defendants had attorneys. They will be arraigned in court in Las Cruces on November 22, CNN affiliate KOAT reported.

CNN has sought comment from the attorney general’s office and New Mexico State University.

The charges come months after the university in February temporarily suspended the men’s basketball program and ended the team’s 2022-23 season over what the school said were allegations of hazing within the team. The school fired the team’s head coach that month.

Though university officials did not give details about the allegations at the time, a member of the men’s basketball team told school police in February that he had been subjected to hazing in the men’s basketball locker room since the summer, according to a New Mexico State University Police Department case report obtained by CNN affiliate KVIA and shared with CNN. The report redacted players’ names, ages and dates of birth.

“Hazing has no place on our campus, and those found responsible will be held accountable for their actions,” Chancellor Dan E. Arvizu said in an open letter to the university community in February.

Two former players filed a lawsuit in April against the former head coach, three former NMSU players and others, citing what they alleged were hazing and sexual assault incidents within the team.

The suit was settled for $8 million, KOAT reported.

Attorney Joleen Youngers, who represents two of the alleged hazing victims, said the indictments “certainly support the allegations in both lawsuits we have filed.”

“This is a good first step on the road to justice, but we seek more than holding the perpetrators accountable,” she said. “Where were the coaches and their staff while this was going on? Where was the AD and his staff? Why didn’t they act on what they had to have seen, what they had heard? Someone should have shut this behavior before so many people were hurt, so many times.”

The Aggies resumed their men’s basketball program under a new coach, and the team played its first two games of the 2023-24 regular season this week.

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3 former New Mexico State basketball players charged with sex crimes in case of alleged hazing