Judge orders parents' detention in child trafficking case | KOB 4

Judge orders parents' detention in child trafficking case

Erica Zucco and J.R. Oppenheim
May 15, 2018 10:08 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- An Albuquerque judge ordered two parents accused of abusing their children and one of them of prostituting their 7-year-old daughter to remain in custody until trial.


Judge Alisa Hart issued the ruling to detain suspects James Stewart and Teri Sanchez on Tuesday afternoon following days of court hearings. Authorities charged Stewart with promoting prostitution and Sanchez with child abuse.

Hart said the state established enough probable cause that Stewart and Sanchez endangered their children and showed disrespect for their well-being. Prosecutors claim Stewart forced the girl to touch adults in a sexual manner and trafficked women.

The hearings included testimony from the girl's teachers who said she came to school tired in wrinkled clothes and unkempt hair. The teachers testified the girl talked about having to "hustle" with her mother.

"The system was failing her I know it was because I called and did everything I was supposed to do," one teacher said on the stand. "And she told me she was breaking the law, so I called CYFD because she was starving and needed care. And I called police officers when she said she was breaking the law even though she had no idea."

Hart ruled that the evidence establishes Stewart lives life under the radar, threatens people and exerts control over others. Hart thus ordered his detention for the girl's protection.

Regarding Sanchez, Hart believes Stewart can still influence Sanchez even behind bars. Hart, therefore, ruled Sanchez be jailed as well.

Attorney General Hector Balderas, whose office fought for pretrial detention, praised the court for its decision.

"I'm pleased with Judge Hart's ruling that both defendants accused of horrific crimes against their 7-year-old daughter will stay in jail pending formal charges and trial," Balderas said in a statement. "I applaud the courageous witnesses who partnered with our office to protect children, and we will continue to pursue justice for all New Mexico children."


Erica Zucco and J.R. Oppenheim

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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