Former Rio Rancho middle school coach accused of sexually assaulting former athlete

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A former Rio Rancho middle school coach is accused of sexually assaulting a former athlete, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

According to documents, the assault happened in Fall 2016 when the victim was 13 years old and attending Eagle Ridge Middle School. Now, nearly five years later, the victim said she finally feels safe enough to share her story.

“It takes one courageous person to come forward and speak out, and usually that inspires others to find their voice as well,” said Shannon Kennedy, an attorney representing the victim.

Back in 2016, documents allege that then-coach Danny Charley sexually assaulted the girl.

“We’re very disappointed that this young girl, her parents didn’t know that she was being placed on a bus and transported to away games apart from the rest of her teammates,” said Kennedy. “We just want to make sure that female athletes are kept safe in the public schools in New Mexico.”

According to documents, Charley would take her to games alone. During that time he would force her to perform sexual acts. The lawsuit also said Charley raped and threatened the victim at school in the girl’s locker room.

“It’s had a devastating impact on her blossoming sexuality. She disguises herself as a boy because she is so afraid he will hunt her down and hurt her. So her life will never be the same. The psychiatric injuries she has suffered, it’s sort of like when you have a physical scar that never heals,” said Kennedy.

For the victim, justice is about finding her voice, but also holding people accountable. Kennedy said Charley used and abused his authority as an educator and a coach.

“Sadly, small, small, small, less than 10-percent of all victims of sexual abuse ever come forward let alone succeed in criminal prosecution and only since the ‘Me too’ movement have we seen some glimmers of hope and success where female survivors of sexual abuse actually get justice in the criminal justice system,” said Kennedy.

A spokesperson for Rio Rancho Public Schools said Charley left the district in 2016. There is currently an ongoing criminal case against Danny Charley. He was indicted in 2018 on charges of child solicitation by electronic communication device and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

There have been numerous hearings over the years, but Charley has yet to go to trial. There is a status conference scheduled for later this month.