New Mexico D.A. Seeking Changes to Laws to Better Protect Victims of Sex Abuse

Bernalillo County District Attorney, Raul Torrez is proposing changes to New Mexico state law in order to better protect victims of child sex abuse. “We have a real problem inside the criminal justice system. We are not living up to our best selves.  We need to do better and do more for victims of crime,” Torrez said.

D.A. Torrez is in favor of restricting the ability of defense attorneys to interrogate victims of criminal sex abuse. The process of questioning victims can often lead to “revictimization” for the individual being interrogated. As evidence, Torrez played audio recordings and transcripts from interviews with victims of abuse, citing numerous instances of inappropriate questioning by attorneys from the public defender’s office.

Survivors Are Often Revictimized by Criminal Justice System

In one example bravely shared by Ashley Vargas, now 18, she was asked during her interrogation what she was wearing to bed the night she was abused when she was only 11. “I remember a specific question, they were asking me what I wore,” Vargas said. “And I told them I was wearing tights and a T-shirt, and they asked me why I was wearing tights to bed.  They were asking an 11-year-old why— they made it seem like it was my fault. They were inflicting so many painful questions over and over.”

Torrez proposed three legislative changes to New Mexico law, firstly, children alleging to have been sexually abused should not be forced into interrogations by defense attorneys. Secondly, adults with disabilities should also not be forced into interrogations and third, any adult should have the option to refuse interview before trial.

Defense attorneys argue that restricting questioning of victims before trial will hinder their ability to fully grasp the events that lead up to crime and limit their ability to make a case for their client. Nearly 40 states in the U.S. have restrictions against interviewing victims of sex crimes, especially for children. New Mexico is not one of them.

If you or someone near to you has been a victim of child sex abuse in New Mexico, or any state, you can feel confident in selecting Paul Mones as your advocate. Attorney Paul Mones has decades of experience working for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and possesses the compassion and sensitivity survivors deserve.