Santa Fe man potentially linked to two cases of child sexual abuse

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SANTA FE— According to court documents, Robert Apodaca’s alleged abuse of minors dates back to 2019.

Documents show a church elder called police in June 2021 to report what a family in his congregation told him about past abuse of their son.

Santa Fe police started an official investigation in July, and found that the family knew Apodaca as a minister in their congregation, and allowed their then twelve-year-old son to spend time alone with him.

Detectives said, and documents show, Apodaca admitted to about ten incidents of sexual contact with the victim, at his house, in his car, in public when people weren’t around, and in Albuquerque.

The child was also a student at Gonzales Community School at the time of the abuse in 2019, where Apodaca also worked.

Police arrested Apodaca on July 15, 2021, for three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor in the second degree.

Four days later, the state filed an expedited motion for pretrial detention, and a judge granted it.

During that investigation, detectives learned that New Mexico State Police are also looking into Apodaca for similar allegations from a different family from Santo Niño Regional Catholic School, also in Santa Fe.

A NMSP report from April 28, 2021 outlines that a school employee witnessed potential evidence of sexual abuse against a child at the school that week. The employee told police that Apodaca was supervising the after-school program that day. When she went to the classroom to get him, the door was locked. The report said, “What she was seeing was a child sitting in Mr. Apodaca’s lap. At that time she was unaware where Mr. Apodaca’s hands were located.”

The report also cites the child talking about Apodaca routinely putting him in his lap, conducting rounds of the school just the two of them, and singling him out for treats.

During Principal Robin Chavez’s police interview on April 29, 2021, the report says, “Mrs. Chavez informed she contacted the Archdiocese and was informed not to contact CYFD, nor law enforcement, as it did not yet rise to that level of notification.”

KOB asked Principal Chavez for a comment, and she directed us to the Archdiocese.

“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has a zero tolerance policy against inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse of a minor. Abuse Awareness Training and background checks are mandatory for all clergy, employees and volunteers. The Archdiocese remains absolutely determined to ensure the protection of children from the crime of child sexual abuse," said a representative.