UNM professor says child sex abuse victims could take years to come forward | KOB 4

UNM professor says child sex abuse victims could take years to come forward

Patrick Hayes
July 30, 2019 06:24 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A recent lawsuit filed in New Mexico accuses former Española Mayor Richard Lucero of sexually abusing an employee’s son during trips with Explorers – a group affiliated with Boy Scouts of America.

Lucero has not responded to KOB 4’s request for comment.

However, according to the lawsuit filed earlier this month, the abuse is alleged to have happened in the 1980’s. The victim is now in his 40s.

Dr. Kristina Sowar, a University of New Mexico professor and child psychiatrist, told KOB 4 it could take years for victims of sexual abuse to come forward.

"Children or adults may feel like they aren't safe to come forward and talk about it like they may be threatened or their family might be threatened," Sowar said. 

According to the lawsuit, Lucero threatened to fire the boy’s mother if he came forward.

Sowar told KOB 4 that parents and guardians can be on the lookout for certain signs if they think they’re child may have been abused.

"Sometimes it's just changes in behavior,” Sowar said.

“For example, the child may not be involved in the activity that they used to. They may have some anxiety or seem less comfortable around the individual. They may have other changes in their behavior in general like withdrawing from social things,” she added.

The Boy Scouts of America is named in several lawsuits in New Mexico alleging sexual abuse. 

On Tuesday, Boy Scouts of America told KOB 4 that Lucero “is not currently registered in our programs and has been prohibited from any future participation in Scouting. As there is pending litigation, we cannot provide specific comment on this matter.”

A Boy Scouts of America spokesperson added the following statement: 

“The safety and protection of children is the most important priority of the Boy Scouts of America. The BSA has established a multi-layered process of safeguards, including the following, all of which help to act as barriers to abuse:

Ongoing mandatory youth-protection training for all volunteers, along with educational materials for parents and Scouts that is prominently featured in handbooks and integrated into our programs;

A formal leader selection process that includes criminal background checks and other screening efforts;

A leadership policy that requires at least two youth-protection trained adults be present with youth at all times, and prohibits one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children – either in person, online, or via text;

Prompt mandatory reporting to the authorities of any allegation or suspicion of abuse;

A 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-SCOUTS1 or 1-844-726-8871) and email contact address (scouts1st@scouting.org) to access counseling and help needed to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior; and

The Volunteer Screening Database, a tool the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for all youth-serving organizations, to prevent individuals that were removed from Scouting from re-registering."


Patrick Hayes

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