Former New Mexico State players charged with sex crimes in locker-room hazing case

FILE - The basketball court of the Pan American Center at New Mexico State University is seen Feb. 15, 2023, in Las Cruces, N.M. Two former New Mexico State basketball players and a team manager filed a lawsuit Monday, Nov. 6, 2023 saying their teammates frequently brought guns into the locker room where they assaulted players under the guise of the attacks serving as a team-building exercise. (AP Photo/Andrs Leighton, File) (Andrés Leighton, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Three former New Mexico State basketball players were charged with multiple sex crimes Thursday related to a series of alleged assaults of teammates that led to the disbandment of the team in the middle of last season.

A New Mexico grand jury indicted former Aggies Deshawndre Washington, Kim Aiken Jr. and Doctor Bradley with multiple counts of criminal sexual penetration, criminal sexual conduct and false imprisonment. Washington and Bradley could face 27 years in prison if convicted on 13 charges apiece. Aiken could face 24 years on 11 charges.

In announcing the indictments, the state attorney general did not release the names of the victims. Earlier this week, two former players and a student manager filed a civil lawsuit against the school, athletic director Mario Moccia and former coaches, along with Washington, Aiken and Bradley, contending they were sexually assaulted and threatened with guns in the New Mexico State locker room.

Those allegations were similar to others lodged by former players Deuce Benjamin and Shak Odunewu in a lawsuit the school settled for $8 million earlier this year.

The lawsuits described a “humbling" ritual in which the defendants would pull down the victims' pants and sometimes grab their genitals. The descriptions were in line with findings in the school's recently completed Title IX investigation into the same players.

Thursday marked the first criminal charges stemming from what the school initially called a hazing incident. The indictments recount episodes dating from August to November 2022 in which the defendants are accused "of holding younger players and student staff against their will while they violated them. Alleged acts included multiple incidents in which they forcefully restrained victims while violently grabbing their genital area.”

All three players are also charged with second-degree sexual penetration, which by itself is punishable by up to nine years in prison.

Their first court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 22 in Dona Ana County, where New Mexico State is based. No attorneys were listed for the players.

Neither Washington nor Aiken found new teams after leaving New Mexico State when the season was abruptly canceled, and the team disbanded in February. Bradley signed with Nicholls State, though a university spokesman there told TV station KTSM on Thursday that Bradley was no longer on the team.

State Attorney General Raúl Torrez has also been looking into the school's handling of the events that led to the team's season being canceled.

Players, coaches and administrators “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,” Torrez said in a statement.

Nobody has been charged in the death of a University of New Mexico student shot by Aggies forward Mike Peake, who was ruled to have been acting in self-defense. Carrying guns on campus or on school-sponsored trips is against university policy and is a misdemeanor in New Mexico.

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