New Mexico

Suspended DASO undersheriff under investigation for sexual harassment

DACSO undersheriff...

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - ABC-7 has obtained documents showing Dona Ana County Undersheriff Ken Roberts is under investigation for sexual harassment.

The documents appear to show complaints from two women who are not identified due to privacy rules. 

An employee accused Undersheriff Roberts of going into her office and closing the door, he "locked it and sat on (her) lap, shook his butt a little while on her lap and got off." He then allegedly said, "I just had to do that."

The woman told investigators the incident allegedly happened in June. She said she talked to an unidentified person about it, was told to document it but she did not file a formal complaint.

In another instance, a woman complains that "Undersheriff Robers would not stop texting her; that (the) text included both on-duty and off-duty (issues); that the majority of the text were not work related," according to the document.

A person who took the complaint noted the complainant stated that "if she is asked about these incidents in a professional setting, such as HR she would not lie and would not hesitate to tell them her story as that made her feel 'Creepy'."

The document also states Sheriff Enrique "Kiki" Vigil notified Roberts on November 3 that sexual harassment allegations were filed against him. He remained on the job for more than two weeks after that.

When asked about the allegations, Sheriff Vigil told ABC-7 he couldn't comment because it was a personnel issue and he needed to protect both parties. He would not say what the terms of Roberts' suspension were and what the timeline was for a possible resolution or when he was made aware of the allegations. ABC-7 also asked Sheriff Vigil if the people of Dona Ana County should continue to have faith in the office considering the allegations. 

"Confidence has always been there so I'm still in charge. That's why we have captains and lieutenants. The county is still looking strong, public safety." 

ABC-7 also asked if Sheriff Vigil had anything to say to the alleged victims.

"It's a personnel issue. There is an investigation being conducted, an outside investigator that's it. So we'll see where the chips fall."

As ABC-7's New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reported first on November 22, Roberts was placed on paid administrative leave, though neither sheriff nor county officials revealed why at the time.

The ABC-7 New Mexico Mobile Newsroom then learned from a source familiar with the case that the undersheriff was on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation. ABC-7 made a request for complaints made against Ken Roberts, but it was denied.

When documents were first withheld by Doña Ana County attorneys alleging confidentiality. After the ABC-7 New Mexico Mobile Newsroom's Operation Manager Tom Scott insisted citing the New Mexico's Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), the county's legal department said further review was needed as to what constitutes opinion and what does not. "We redacted what we believe to be opinion," said an attorney, and the documents were released to ABC-7 late Tuesday.

The documents are heavily redacted.

Roberts was sworn in as undersheriff in July 2016. His law enforcement career spans more than 25 years.

Stay with ABC-7 for more details on this story.